Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
These are the names of the forty-nine people who were killed Sunday morning, June 12, 2016. They were killed because they happened to be at a gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, Florida. They were killed because someone thought they were gay, and that gays should die.
I won’t name the gunman. He was an American. He followed Islam. He listened to ISIL extremists and carried out what he perceived they were instructing him to do. Even though recently questioned by the FBI—he was on their watchlist—he was able to go into a gun shop and purchase the weapons and ammunition that enabled him to carry out his plan.
One of the weapons was an assault rifle—these arms are designed, specifically, to kill people, their sole purpose. Our gun laws need to change, but that’s not what I’m writing about today.
I’m writing about the victims.
The oldest was fifty. The youngest, only eighteen. They were mostly young gay men out enjoying themselves on a Saturday night. There were forty-two men and seven women. They were mostly Hispanic. They were travel agents, pharmacy technicians, dancers, students, UPS workers, filmmakers—people of all walks of life. It was the kind of crowd Pulse was known for. To read some of their stories, here’s an article from Florida Today.
It’s Tuesday, two days since I heard the news. I’m still out of sorts, distracted, teary. I remember these feelings from when my husband died of cancer three years ago. I am grieving.
I know a lot of others are, as well. But I also know, many of us have already pushed this aside and gone on with life. Politicians have eagerly used it in attacks on the opposing party—and their constituents lap it up. It makes me a little sad and more than a little angry. Maybe it will spur some of us to action.
But right now, read these names out loud—each and every one of them. Remember them.
Photo credit: Lis Mitchell Flickr.com/pixelfish
Copyright ©2014-16 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.