It’s time to Break It Down!
Before preparing today’s post I decided to make a cursory inventory. At least six times previously, I have written about mass gun violence (in America). In the most recent instance before today I discussed the facts surrounding the June 17, 2015 shooting of the Charleston Nine at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC. Just two days shy of a year later, I find myself impelled to beat the drum once more. In an ironic twist, I visited the Mother Emanuel Church this weekend. As I was completing my exercise regimen, a spin bike ride, early Sunday morning, before my trip to Charleston, I read a news story and watched on CNN the story and gory details about the massacre at a gay club in Orlando named Pulse.
Each time such a tragedy befalls us; we as a society are diminished. It marks yet another cruel and crushing blow to a nation that I certainly wish to see aspire to emulate its better angels rather than the very worst in our human nature. I have ranted and railed repeatedly about the role easy access to firearms plays in the frequent carnage. I’ve discussed the prevailing politics, examined the NRA and its proxies (lobbyists and Congressmen and women), and lamented the lack of reform. Been there, done that, time and time again.
Not today. In honor of those 49 souls who ended their earthly assignment last Sunday morning at Pulse, I will make a brief introduction, and share the powerful words of one survivor. In the event you wish to reference my thoughts from previous posts on the subject, you can click on links below for several of them.
The list of dearly departed includes:
Edward Sotomayor, Jr.: – A 34 year-old resident of Sarasota, Florida; worked at a travel agency that catered to the gay community.
Stanley Almodovar, III: – A 23 year-old pharmacy technician. Hi smother made him a tomato and cheese dip that he never got to eat; he never returned home.
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo: – A 20 year-old dancer at the club. He was one of the youngest to die.
Akyra Monet Murray: – An 18 year-old from Philadelphia, who was in Orlando on vacation with her brother after graduating from high school.
Luis S. Vielma: – A 22 year-old who worked at Universal Orlando. J.K. Rowling, creator of the “Harry Potter” book series tweeted “I can’t stop crying.” Vielma worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal.
Juan Ramon Guerrero: – A 22 year-old worked as a telemarketer while attending the University of Central Florida.
Christopher Andrew Leinonen: – A 32 year-old, and was Juan Ramon’s boyfriend. He established a gay-straight alliance at his high school.
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera: – A 36 year-old who had moved to Florida from Puerto Rico in pursuit of a better life.
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz: – A 22 year-old who worked at UPS, and who was known for memorizing the names of his regular customers.
Kimberley Morris: – A 37 year-old bouncer at Pulse. She enjoyed mixed martial arts and basketball.
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice: – A 30 year-old accountant who lived in downtown Orlando.
Enrique Rios: – A 25 year-old whom a cousin, Erick Leon, described as, “Loved by everyone who knew him.”
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla: – Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and settled in Orlando.
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega: – Worked in Audience Management for the current season of the singing competition at Telemundo.
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan: – A 24 year-old, was friends with Jonathan Antonio.
Cory James Connell: – A 21 year-old was leaving Pulse with his girlfriend when the shooter, whose name I will not write, entered the club.
Mercedes Marisol Flores: – A 26 year-old; her father Cesar is heartbroken that his daughter was killed.
Deonka Deidra Drayton: – A 32 year-old, she was a bartender at Pulse.
Miguel Angel Honorato: – A 30 year-old; he lived in Orlando, and managed a Mexican restaurant in Sanford, Florida.
Jason Benjamin Josaphat: – A 19 year-old; he attended Southern Technical College in Orlando.
Darryl Roman Burt II: – A 29 year-old; he was an employee on the Jacksonville campus of Kelser University.
Juan Carlos Mendez Perez: – A 35 year-old, was the best salesperson his co-worker, Claudia Agudelo, ever met.
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon: – A 37 year-old, and a friend of Juan Carlos.
Oscar A. Aracena Montero: – A 26 year-old, was celebrating the recent purchase of a home.
Simon Adrian Carillo Fernandez: – A 31 year-old who was Oscar’s partner.
Shane Evan Tomlinson: – A 33 year-old, who had performed with his band Frequency at another club earlier in the evening.
Amanda Avear: – A 25 year-old was on Snapchat at the club when the shooting started.
Martin Benitez Torres: – A 33 year-old was a student at the Tampa Bay campus of Ana G. Mendez University.
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez: A 25 year-old from Manati, Puerto Rico who worked at a Speedway Convenience Store. He had studies Health Care Management at Ana G. Mendez University in Orlando.
Javier Jorge-Reyes: – A 40 year-old from Guayama, Puerto Rico. He managed a Gucci Store in Orlando.
Tevin Eurgene Crosby: – A 25 year-old, who ran his own marketing company. He graduated from West Iredell High School in Statesville, NC in 2010.
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez: – A 50 year-old, he was a professional dancer.
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado: – A 33 year-old, he was a dancer, and proud of his son.
Joel Rayon Paniagua: – Grew up in Veracruz, Mexico; he lived near Tampa, and sent all his money home to family.
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez and Luis Daniel Conde: – Velazquez 37 and a hair stylist, and Conde 39 a make-up artist, were partners. They owned a salon together.
Juan Chevez-Martinez: – A 25 year-old who worked at a hotel.
Jerald Arthur Wright: – A 31 year-old; he worked at Disney World.
Leroy Valentin Fernandez: – A 25 year-old; he leased apartments for a living.
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez: – He bought his first home just over a month ago.
Rodolfo Ayalo-Ayalo: – A 33 year-old, he worked at OneBlood, a blood donation center since 2011.
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool: – A 49 year-old who has 11 kids, and beat cancer twice. Her son survived the shooting.
Angel L. Candelario Padro: – A 28 year-old who had recently moved to Orlando and started a job as a technician at the Florida Retina Institute.
Frank Hernandez: – A 27 year-old; he worked at a Calvin Klein store.
Paul Terrell Henry: – He was from Chicago, and had two children. His daughter Alexia recently graduated from high school.
Antonio Davon Brown: – A 29 year-old; he was a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, and a graduate of Florida A&M University.
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz: – A 24 year-old, he worked at a bank.
Alejandro Barrios-Martinez: – A 21 year-old, he grew up in Cuba before moving to Orlando in 2014 to live with his father.
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez: – A 25 year-old, known as “Drake” to his friends, was a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
That completes a listing of biographical summaries of the 49 men and women who lost their lives a Pulse, as shared by CNN. It is without question, their abrupt departure from life, and especially from their friends and loved ones, is a tragedy of incalculable magnitude. I will not even attempt to put that into words. Instead, I will rely upon the insight and heart-rending sentiments of one survivor, Ms. Patience Carter.
The following is a poem she wrote Monday night, before she shared a person statement yesterday about her experience in the Pulse incident:
The Guilt of Feeling Grateful to be Alive is Heavy
“Wanting to smile about surviving but not sure if the people around you are ready.
As the world mourns, the victims killed and viciously slain, I feel guilty about screaming about my legs in pain.
Because I could feel nothing like the other 49 who weren’t so lucky to feel this pain of mine.
I never thought in a million years that this could happen.I never thought in a million years that my eyes could witness something so tragic.
Looking at the souls leaving the bodies of individuals. Looking at the killer’s machine gun throughout my right peripheral. Looking at the blood and debris covered on everyone’s faces. Looking at the gunman’s feet under the stall as he paces.
The guilt of feeling lucky to be alive is heavy.
It’s like the weight of the ocean’s walls crushing uncontrolled by levies. It’s like being drug through the grass with a shattered leg and thrown on the back of a Chevy. It’s like being rushed to the hospital and told you’re gonna make it when you laid beside individuals whose lives were brutally taken.
The guilt of being alive is heavy.”
With that powerful personal testimony, I think it’s all been said. “This Time Orlando: “Pulse” of the Nation!”
I’m done; holla back!
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