One week ago, 49 souls were stolen from Orlando, murdered in an unimaginable act of terror. Hundreds more were injured or witnessed unthinkable violence.
Our city remains in a state of shock, our hearts broken as we grieve for the victims and their families. Everyone in our city is struggling to comprehend how Orlando, a place known around the world for joy and fun, is now also the site of the worst mass shooting in modern American history.
In Orlando’s darkest hour, our community has been uplifted by the love and support from across our country and around the world. For decades, the world has come to Orlando to have fun. Last week, when we needed it most, the world came to Orlando’s aid.
We heard Americans singing outside of the White House. We saw rainbow flags flying above Seattle’s Space Needle and iconic landmarks lit up from coast to coast, all to show Orlando that we weren’t alone. Tens of thousands gathered in London, chanting, “Orlando, we have your back.” We witnessed candles alight in honor of our victims in front of The Coliseum in Rome. We saw the Eiffel Tower lit up in the colors of the rainbow. So many of our victims are Hispanic, and we felt the love and strength of Latin America. Every day, we continue to watch unique and powerful displays of support from Germany, Sweden, India, Chile, Brazil, and on and on.
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On behalf of everyone in Orlando, we want to thank our brothers and sisters from across America and around the world for standing with us, praying with us and mourning with us. Your shared strength and resolve has helped our city.
If there is any good to be found in the darkness that has consumed our city, it is that the world has had the chance to see the other side of Orlando. Not our famous theme parks, but the growing city that still has a small-town feel. The place that in many ways is America’s new melting pot. The city where diversity and inclusion are vital parts of our way of life.
When the worst that humanity has to offer visited our city, the residents of Orlando showed they were more than capable of showing the world the best of humanity.
My hope is that what happened in Orlando and our response to it compels others to find ways to work together to overcome hate, intolerance and injustice. Incredibly, we’ve already begun to hear from those who say what has happened here and how our community has responded has sparked a change in their hearts.
My hope is that we will be remembered, not as the city where a horrible shooting took place, but as the city that showed others that love can conquer hate.
And, my hope is that Orlando’s tragedy is remembered as the event that led our country into a new era of embracing diversity, equality and fairness.
On behalf of everyone who calls Orlando home — thank you, thank you, thank you.
Buddy Dyer is mayor of the city of Orlando.