Plans Begin For Memorial At Site Of Pulse Nightclub Shooting
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
It's been a year since the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, when a gunman opened fire at Pulse. Forty-nine died and more than 50 were wounded at the Orlando gay dance club. Now Pulse's owner wants to give mourners a space. From member station WMFE, Amy Green reports on plans for a permanent memorial and museum.
AMY GREEN, BYLINE: Pulse's located a mile south of downtown Orlando on a primary artery coursing through the city. Cars whiz by as mourners examine the artwork, candles and flowers left with care on the hot pavement out front. Jim Marshall is from Seattle.
JIM MARSHALL: That's the value to me of coming here. I can move through a lot of the sadness and the anger and move into that place of love and gratitude. And to experience this very sacred, hallowed place, it's a blessing.
GREEN: Marshall slouches on a yellow strip that once marked a parking space at the gay nightclub as he surveys the scene. A screen featuring the rainbow-colored murals of local artists hangs from a chain-link fence surrounding the club. It serves as a happy shroud for the carcass of a building, which is painted black as it always was. This is the outpouring that inspired Pulse owner Barbara Poma plans for a memorial and museum. The project would be modeled after ones marking acts of terrorism in New York City and Oklahoma City.
BARBARA POMA: I've handed the property over and the project over to our families and survivors and everyone here in Orlando and the world.
GREEN: She established two groups of survivors family members and others touched by the tragedy to oversee the process. Her onePULSE foundation will fund the effort. Eventually, she'll solicit bids from designers.
POMA: We have no idea how long it's going to take. We don't know if it's going to be one year, three years, five years. And I think putting a time on it is unrealistic. And it could create pressure - unnecessary pressure for a lot of people, especially the families because since our process is starting so - you know, within the one-year mark, some people aren't ready yet.
GREEN: Ken Foote, author of the book "Shadowed Ground: America's Landscapes Of Violence And Tragedy," says only within the last generation has there been a need to learn from these acts and honor the dead.
KEN FOOTE: These memorials for these horrible shootings and so forth are relatively new. People seem to think that we've always done this sort of thing. But the sense of shame that's often attached to these events, often in the past, made it very difficult for people to mark these events.
GREEN: Mayra Alvear always knew she would be involved. Her 25-year-old daughter Amanda was among those slain at Pulse. Amanda chillingly snapchatted the attack, sending around the world the fast-tempo percussive sounds of the gunman's deadly fire.
MAYRA ALVEAR: My daughter died there. Why would I not be involved? That's - you know, she is my priority. Everything that have to do with my daughter, I be there. That's my baby.
GREEN: Mayra envisions a place of beauty and peace at Pulse with trees.
ALVEAR: My daughter's life was taken there and so many others. And somehow, when I visit there, it's just like the angels embrace me somehow. It's just I feel their love, you know? It's just a feeling I have. And I don't want that feeling to go away.
GREEN: A year after an act of hate, she wants to provide a space of love. For NPR News, I'm Amy Green in Orlando.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And be sure to tune into Morning Edition tomorrow for more on the Pulse anniversary. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.