We Are Better When We Stand Together

Last updated on June 20, 2016

One week ago 49 souls were stolen from our city, and hundreds more injured or witness to an unimaginable act of terror. It still seems unreal. Our Orlando, the site of the worst mass shooting in American history, how can this be?

In the face of this tragedy, what we have witnessed from our community is nothing short of extraordinary. In the days since those 49 beautiful people were taken from us by the worst humanity has to offer, the members of our community have stood up and stood together to show the world the best humanity has to offer.

We’ve seen our residents line up for hours to give blood, to offer their love and support, or just to hold hands, give a hug or say a prayer. We’ve witnessed the continued courage and leadership of our first responders. We’ve seen our businesses donate millions of dollars, provide needed goods and services and open their doors after hours. We’ve seen our most precious asset — our children — learn much too early the depths of tragedy, but respond as only children can, by hosting lemonade stands and coloring cards for the victims and their families. And, we’ve seen the families of those we have lost grieve, share fond memories and show the world that when you love unconditionally, that love will help carry you through your darkest hours.

If there is any good to be found in the darkness that has consumed our city, it is that the response to this tragedy has allowed us to show the country and the world the ideals that we in Orlando believe in and try to live every single day… that we are better when we stand together. 

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 Orlando will be remembered, not as the site of a horrible shooting, 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.

The coming days, weeks and months are going to be extraordinarily difficult for our city. There will be 49 funerals. The survivors will continue a long and difficult road to recovery. I imagine just about every one of us will struggle with the questions of why?

The visiting news media will eventually leave. When the cameras go away, our pain will remain. But, I know we will get through this, Orlando. I know we will because I know you, my neighbors. I know your strength, your compassion and your love for our city and everyone who shares this, our City Beautiful, with one another.

Words cannot sufficiently express my gratitude and admiration for our residents and businesses in the way they have responded to this tragedy. I have never been more proud to be mayor of our great city. I have never been more proud to be your neighbor and friend.

- Mayor Buddy Dyer

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