The Pulse Interim Memorial offers the Orlando community has a new place to reflect and heal.
When the Pulse Nightclub tragedy happened two years ago, the Orlando community came together in many ways, showing a united front in the face of terror and hate. Since then, the Pulse site has been a place where people could mourn and leave behind tokens of love and support for the 49 people who lost their lives.
With the opening of an interim memorial at the Pulse site on May 8, the experience is completely new. Owner Barbara Poma launched the interim memorial through the onePULSE Foundation to provide the public with a space to remember and reflect while a permanent memorial and museum is being designed. The atmosphere of inclusion that Pulse was known for is still felt at the site.
“It was just always our mission to make sure that, even though it was a nightclub, that we took care of each other,” Poma says. “That everyone was accepted and welcome there.”
Visitors can leave flowers or mementos at the offering wall; view the waterfall entrance, a portion of the building with the names of the 49 angels and the area where the bathroom rescue occurred; leave a message at the Pulse Nightclub sign; and take some time for reflection in the green space of Survivor Grove.
A Memorial, Created
Throughout the design process, Poma has worked closely with staff members from memorials around the country, including the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. She considers them a support system for everyone at the foundation as they have navigated the process.
“I have no preconceptions of what it will look like,” Poma says of the permanent memorial and museum for Pulse. “I just hope that it feels like a healing place. I hope that it feels like a place of hope and remembrance, a place of education, a place of strength, really, and that it encompasses all the unity that our community and the world showed us.”
Last fall, 2,200 people took an online survey to share their thoughts and ideas for the Pulse memorial site. One survey question inquired, “How do you want to feel when you come to the memorial?”
Love, Hope, Unity, Strength
Individuals were asked to choose five words and emotions from a list that was provided. They responded in four groups: families, survivors, first responders and the general public. Among all four groups, the top words were love, hope, unity, strength, acceptance and courage. The same question was posed during preparations for the Oklahoma City and 9/11 memorials, and the chosen words were loss, solemn, remembrance and grief.
While Poma didn’t expect to see such uplifting selections, she says, “I think, for me, it was just completely symbolic of who Orlando is.”
In addition to designing, constructing and maintaining a permanent national memorial and museum, the onePULSE Foundation will also offer endowed scholarships in memory of each victim according to their dreams and aspirations. Educational programs to promote amity, or friendship, among all segments of the community are part of the foundation’s mission as well.