Even though we live in a satellite community, for all intents and purposes, Orlando is our home. The images of the horrific massacre this week have been even more evident here than anywhere else. It is impossible to go anywhere and not see it.
It is visible in the ecumenical prayer vigils held at St. James Cathedral, First Baptist Church, community centers, city parks, the Amway Arena, outside the nightclub where the shooting occurred and even in some of our theme parks.
Many priests from the Diocese of Orlando (and other local clergy from many denominations) have been spending time at the Family Gathering Place helping to console and comfort those who have lost loved ones.
The news broadcast showed queues of people who were in line for as much as eight hours to donate blood. The following day, all the blood donor appointments were filled immediately.
The billboards around town are displaying messages of love and support for the victims, their families and friends. Electronic traffic message boards bounce between the traffic update and the “Orlando Strong” message.
Young children are making cards to comfort and encourage the victims, their families, the first responders and the doctors and nurses who have taken care of the wounded.
A volunteer organization has been actively helping the victim families with housing, food, transportation and anything else they may need.
A Go Fund Me account has raised almost $5M from 100,000 donors at the time of this writing.
It has been a horrific week but a week laced with support, generosity, caring, prayer and unity. All our differences have been out aside. It does not matter if we are young or old; black, white, yellow, green, purple or rainbow; Democrat or Republican; Christian, Jewish, Muslim or atheist; married or single. We are all in this together.
The actions of our citizens has been an amazing witness to the love and kindness of the people in this city. I just pray that other cities can experience the support, generosity, caring, prayer and unity without the tragedy.
Let us pray for peace!