On June 12, 2016, the Pulse Nightclub shooting claimed 49 victims and forever changed the lives of many more survivors, family members, and first responders, as well as the communities to which those individuals belonged. The outpouring of love and support in the wake of such tragedy linked profoundly personal histories together in unexpected ways. The artifacts found in this exhibition are physical representations of these stories; some of struggle and loss and others of triumph and hope. Each of these journeys, in many ways so different, converge in the early morning hours of that fateful day. As time moves forward, we will continue to remember these stories and honor those whose lives so significantly shaped them.

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Stories

Just imagine what stories the objects found in this exhibition could tell. Some are simple, some are profound and carry tremendous emotional weight, and some are a bit more difficult to decipher. They all share a commonality – an association with the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Some of their stories are apparent, while others took the passage of time for their tale to unfold. Each item here carries with it more than its original intended use may imply, serving as a reminder of the incalculable number of connections made during the response to this senseless act of violence.

Icon Hand Drag

Orlando United Day Proclamation Following the Pulse Nightclub shooting, both Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and then Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs organized efforts to assist those affected and to find appropriate means to memorialize the victims. The City of Orlando organized the OneOrlando Fund, dedicated to raising money for both survivors and families of victims. The Orange County Regional History Center (OCRHC), a partnership of Orange County Government and the Historical Society of Central Florida, began efforts to collect related items both locally and from around the world. The One Orlando Collection is still growing, but now contains more than 10,000 items which have been cataloged by museum staff, including the items found in this exhibition.

Both governments collaborated in forming the Orlando United Assistance Center to aid those affected by the tragedy through counseling and other social services. Another joint effort designated June 12 as Orlando United Day, a “Day of Love and Kindness” in honor of victims, survivors, and the community response to the tragedy. A copy of the proclamation that once belonged to Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan is now part of the History Center’s permanent collection.
February 26, 2003

January 4, 2011







June 12, 2016

June 23, 2016

June 27, 2016

June 12, 2017

March 13, 2018
June 12, 2016 “We’re going to be defined by a response. And that response has to be with love and compassion and unity, and the community embraced that whole notion from the very beginning.”

Mayor Buddy Dyer,
October 2016
Buddy Dyer sworn in as 32nd Mayor of Orlando

Teresa Jacobs sworn in as 4th Mayor of
Orange County






History Center staff collects first items

Orlando United Assistance Center opens

One Orlando Collection Initiative officially begins

Inaugural Orlando United Day

Commissioner Patty Sheehan donates signed
proclamation to History Center collection
Where Do They Go? Having earned many prestigious accolades, including the Hispanic Heritage Foundation Award in Literature and the National Medal of Arts, Julia Alvarez has proven to be a prolific author. Her experiences early in life, which included her family fleeing from the Dominican Republic and her subsequent tribulations as a young girl balancing multicultural influences here in the United States, served to shape her voice as a writer. Following the unexpected death of her sister, Julia uncharacteristically struggled to find her way with words, no longer able to keep up her normal schedule of writing. Instead, she began compiling a series of short phrases about the loss of a loved one, which would become a children’s book, Where Do They Go? She describes the work as a book full of questions, not answers. It does not strive for a resolution of sorrow or death, but simply seeks to provide comfort for those who need it.

In June 2016, prior to the book’s release, Julia traveled to Orlando to speak at a children’s publishing conference. She amended her entire speech to address the recent Pulse tragedy, discussing the role writing can play in finding meaning and hope in the midst of difficult times. She then made a trip to visit the memorial at the Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC). After seeing so many items placed there in tribute, it seemed only appropriate to leave a galley (an advance copy used for proofing) of Where Do They Go? among the thousands of objects. With consideration to both the content of the book and the moving nature of the memorial, Alvarez recalled that it “seemed like a book that belonged in that space.”
March 27, 1950


1960


1984


January 4, 1991







June 23, 2016


June 24, 2016


June 28, 2016

November 2, 2016

November 30, 2019
June 12, 2016 Julia Alvarez is born in New York City. Soon, she and her family move back to the Dominican Republic

The Alvarez family flees the Dominican Republic due to her father’s opposition to the Trujillo regime, returning to the USA

Homecoming, a collection of poetry, becomes Alvarez’s first published book release

Alvarez publishes her first novel, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents







Alvarez delivers the keynote speech at the American Booksellers Association’s Children’s Institute conference in Orlando

While visiting the memorial outside of ORMC, Julia inscribes a galley of her upcoming book Where Do They Go? for Pulse victims

Book is collected by staff of the History Center

Where Do They Go? published by Seven Stories Press

Alvarez participates in an oral history with the History Center
Photograph of Christina Grimmie At just twenty-two years old, musician Christina Grimmie had already achieved great success. She had amassed a large online following via her popular YouTube channel, released a full-length album, and had appeared on numerous television shows, most notably as a finalist on season six of NBC’s The Voice. Her vocal talent and charismatic personality made her a star on the rise with a seemingly bright future.

On June 10, 2016, Grimmie performed at The Plaza Live on North Bumby Avenue in Orlando, opening for the band As You Exit. Following the concert, she stood by her merchandise display, taking photos and signing autographs. After waiting in line among fans, a man approached the table and began shooting, killing both Christina and himself. In a shocking act of violence, a young and promising life was ended. Just over 24 hours later, more tragedy would unfold in Orlando with the Pulse Nightclub shooting. These two events became linked together in the collective consciousness of the city. Several tributes to Grimmie were placed among the Pulse memorials around town, including this printed photo collected from outside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The image shows Christina during her final performance, in the last hours of her life.
March 12, 1994

July 17, 2009

August 6, 2013

May 20, 2014

May 29, 2016

June 10, 2016








June 17, 2016

June 27, 2016


June 9, 2017
June 12, 2016 Christina Grimmie is born in Marlton, NJ

Christina posts her first video on YouTube

With Love, Grimmie’s debut full-length album, is released

Grimmie places third in the finals of The Voice

Tour with Before You Exit begins in Philadelphia, PA

Christina Grimmie, 22, is shot and killed while greeting fans following a concert performance in Orlando







Public memorial service held for friends and fans

Photo collected by History Center staff from memorial at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Christina’s second album, All Is Vanity, is released posthumously
Orlando United Shirt Many beloved sports teams are not admired simply because of their on-field performances, but because of what they represent to the community in which they play. When Major League Soccer (MLS) awarded Orlando a franchise in 2013, the city embraced the sport, and likewise, the team worked to positively contribute to the city they called home. Following Pulse, staff from the soccer club felt they needed to do something. Just one day after the shooting, Orlando City Soccer conceived the Orlando United T-Shirt as a fundraiser for survivors and families of victims through the OneOrlando Fund. The effort was a collaboration with other professional teams in town, including the Pride, Magic, Solar Bears, and Predators. The shirt’s fractal heart design, created by team staff member Eric Allsopp, would become an iconic image and a ubiquitous reminder of the city’s compassion and unity following the tragedy.

Less than a week after the shooting, Orlando City faced the San Jose Earthquakes in a match at Camping World Stadium. The home team wore Orlando United shirts during their warmups, and the game presentation featured several tributes to victims and first responders. In a moving gesture, the game was paused during the 49th minute of play for a moment of silence. The club would later create a permanent memorial in their new stadium by installing 49 rainbow-colored seats, one for each victim.
November 19, 2013


March 8, 2015







June 13, 2016


June 14, 2016

June 16, 2016

June 16, 2016


June 18, 2016


January 4, 2017
June 12, 2016 Orlando City Soccer announced as franchise
of MLS

First MLS game in Orlando







Orlando City Soccer marketing team meets
following shooting

Club announces fundraiser and shirt design

Design is first made available for purchase

Mayor Buddy Dyer presents a shirt to President
Obama during his visit to meet with families

Orlando City team wears shirt during warmups
for their first game following Pulse

49 rainbow seats unveiled in new stadium
Stars of HOPE Part art, part outreach, Stars of HOPE USA is an organization designed to bring comfort to those who have experienced tragedy. When a community is impacted by a natural or man-made disaster, volunteers decorate wooden stars with their own unique designs and messages of support. Since 2007, participants have created over 140,000 stars. Often, communities who were previously recipients of the gesture work to pay it forward to a new group of impacted individuals. The stars bring color, both symbolically and literally, into the lives of people facing dark times.

Following the Pulse Nightclub shooting, many groups wished to show solidarity with Orlando. New York City and San Bernardino, CA, both of which had experienced acts of mass violence, were among those represented. Locally, a large group of employees from Loews Hotels, operator of several resort properties in town, created over 1,200 individual stars for staff and volunteers at the Orlando Regional Medical Center, as well as for the memorials at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and Pulse Nightclub. One of the creators of Stars of HOPE, Jeff Parness, worked alongside Loews on their project, decorating his own star with the message “LOVE = PEACE.”
September 10,
1999

2007







June 2016


June 28 & 29,
2016

June 30, 2016


June 12, 2017
June 12, 2016 Loews Portofino Bay Hotel opens, the company’s
first resort in Orlando

Stars of HOPE USA launched by New York Says
Thank You Foundation






Loews Hotel employees begin creating stars in response to Pulse Nightclub shooting

Representatives from Stars of HOPE visit Orlando and assist Loews employees in placing stars at memorial sites

Star collected from memorial at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts by History Center staff

During the one year remembrance of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, Orlando residents gather to paint Stars of HOPE for the victims’ families and survivors of the Manchester Arena bombing
New Orleans Fleur-De-Lis Following the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the New Orleans LGBT Hospitality Alliance (NOLHA) wanted to show their community’s solidarity with Orlando. They quickly began organizing efforts to create a special gift representative of their city, a large Fleur-de-lis statue to be covered with handwritten messages. The Fleur-de-lis, long associated with Louisiana and its French-influenced culture, became even more significant following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The image became a symbol for the recovery and rebuilding of the proud city. Kern Studios, a celebrated New Orleans business best known for creating floats for Mardi Gras, graciously designed and donated this 5-foot tall piece. In July 2016, the statue was displayed publicly, with the organization welcoming signatures from any resident of New Orleans who wanted to show their support.

The piece was quickly covered with handwritten names and well-wishes, each offering their condolences to those who suffered during the terrible tragedy. In October 2016, members of NOLHA visited Orlando to deliver the statue. The gift was presented during a ceremony here at the Orange County Regional History Center, attended by dignitaries including Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan and then Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.
1947

August 29, 2005

July 9, 2008


2014







July 23, 2016


July 25, 2016


October 14, 2016
June 12, 2016 Kern Studios opens

Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, LA

Bill is signed making the Fleur-de-lis an official symbol for the state of Louisiana

New Orleans LGBT Hospitality Alliance founded







Statue is first made available for signing at the 29th Annual Gay Appreciation Awards Gala

Signed statue goes on display for a week at the Sheraton New Orleans

Fleur-de-lis is presented to the Orange County Regional History Center
Be You Sign Though it has been a long and hard-fought road, the last fifty years have held many milestones in the advancement of LGBTQ rights. One of the most significant of these rights is marriage equality. In the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. On the afternoon of the decision, large crowds gathered on the courthouse steps to celebrate. Among them, a young boy named Lucas, who along with his two fathers, would now legally be considered a family. He carried a small sign created by the National LGBTQ Task Force that stated simply, but powerfully, “be you.”

While the details of Lucas’ story are not known beyond his written message and photo, he gifted this special keepsake to the memorial outside the nightclub. Attached is a flag from the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization dedicated to preserving the rights defined in the U.S. Constitution, as well as a photo of Lucas himself. It is a poignant piece of history, both of an individual family and the struggles of the LGBTQ community.
1920

June 28, 1969

October 1973

December 15, 1973

September 20, 2011

June 26, 2015







September 16, 2016
June 12, 2016 American Civil Liberties Union established

Stonewall Riots begin in New York City

National LGBTQ Task Force, then known as the National Gay Task Force, founded

Homosexuality is removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders

U.S. Military discontinues “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Obergefell v. Hodges is decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, and Lucas, along with his two fathers, become a legal family






Sign placed at Pulse Nightclub memorial by Lucas and his family is collected by OCRHC staff
United States Flag When Dorothy Vining Sopp, who served in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, passed away in 1978, the military presented a flag to her only child, daughter Teri Sopp. For years, Teri proudly displayed it during Independence Day and other patriotic holidays. In addition to being a veteran, Dorothy was a staunch supporter of the civil rights movement, appalled at the poor treatment of African Americans she witnessed throughout her life. She was also committed to supporting her LGBTQ friends, having worked alongside many members of the community during her time in the Navy.

At the time of the Pulse shooting, Teri was living down the street from the nightclub. She attended the vigil outside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and would spend the coming weeks watching processions of mourners from the Baldwin-Fairchild Funeral Home pass by her office in Ivanhoe Village. The next month, rather than her usual Fourth of July tradition of hanging the flag outside her home, Teri, with the flag in hand, visited the memorial at Pulse. With the help of a stranger, Teri hung the flag in memory of the victims and of her mother, bringing along a marker to leave for those wanting to write a message on its large surface. For some, the idea of giving up such a personal heirloom would be difficult, but this was not the case for Teri. When asked about the decision to leave the flag, Teri commented “how silly it is for one person to have this and keep it in a drawer. It is serving no purpose there, it needs to be displayed publicly, it needs to have some way to honor my mom. Let’s let people know how she would have felt about this.”
September 19, 1927

February 9, 1951

February 12, 1953


1978


2015







June 13, 2016


July 4, 2016: Morning


July 4, 2016: 10:30am


March 11, 2020
June 12, 2016 Dorothy Vining Sopp is born

Sopp enlists in U.S. Navy Nurse Corps

Teresa (Teri) Jo Sopp, Dorothy’s only child, is born in Jacksonville, FL

After a battle with cancer, Dorothy Sopp
passes away

Teri moves to Orlando







Teri attends Pulse vigil on lawn of Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Teri purchases wire ties from Ace Hardware on South Orange Avenue

Teri places flag on the security fence at the Pulse Nightclub memorial, along with laminated note honoring her late mother

History Center conducts oral history with Teri regarding the flag, Dorothy, and her experiences living in Orlando
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Patch For 476 days, the Pulse Nightclub tragedy held the unenviable title of deadliest shooting by a single perpetrator in United States history. History Center staff collected several objects representing first responder groups from the memorial outside the nightclub. These items, from various parts of the country, showed solidarity for both the victims and those who worked to save them. A patch from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department would later prove to be of particular significance. On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, killing 58 individuals and injuring hundreds more. The officers tasked with responding to the incident would be wearing the very same patch.

Sadly, many more acts of extreme violence would take place in the time between these two events. In the United States, there were twenty-five mass shootings, defined as a single occurrence with four or more deaths resulting from gun violence, not including the perpetrator, between June 12, 2016 and October 1, 2017 (sourced from the Gun Violence Archive). Although additional incidents have occurred since that time, the Las Vegas shooting remains this country’s deadliest in modern history.








June 12, 2016


2016


October 5, 2016

December 2016

2017



October 1, 2017
June 12, 2016 At 10:21am, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announces that 49 victims have been killed at Pulse Nightclub, with many more injured

Shootings in Las Vegas, NV • Dallas, TX • Reading, PA • Citronelle, AL • Del Valle, TX • Burlington, WA • Pembroke Township, IL • Los Angeles, CA • Jackson, GA

History Center staff collect patch from memorial outside Pulse

Shootings in Channelview, TX • Chicago, IL • Wilson, NC

Shootings in Fort Lauderdale, FL • Bremerton, WA • Yazoo City, MS • Toomsuba, MS • Rothschild, WI • Chicago, IL • Houston, TX • Bogue Chitto, MS • Orlando, FL • La Madera, NM • Whitakers, NC • Saint Louis, MO • Plano, TX

58 victims are killed by gunfire on the Vegas Strip at the Route 91 Harvest festival, surpassing Orlando as the site of the deadliest mass shooting in United States modern history
Budai Statue While traveling, artist Michael Pilato always made a point to pick up a souvenir for his daughter, Skye. During a trip to Burma (now known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar), he purchased a small statue of Budai, a Chinese monk known as the “Laughing Buddha.” Unbeknownst to Michael, Skye kept this item in a small chest, along with the other gifts her father had given her from his journeys around the world. Unfortunately, at the age of 19, Skye Pilato passed away. As she was living with her mother at the time, her special collection was returned to Michael. Of all the items found in the chest, he selected the Budai and began carrying it around in his pocket as a reminder of his beloved daughter.

In 2016, Pilato, along with Yuriy Karabash and Chimene Hurst, began work on an ambitious mural project in tribute to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. While visiting the memorial at the nightclub, he encountered the thousands of mementos placed there by mourners. Touched by this outpouring of support, Michael felt compelled to gift his daughter’s Budai. The gesture served as an acknowledgement of those who lost their lives, as well as those, much like Michael, who were grieving the loss of a loved one.
March 7, 1995

July 2012

September 30, 2014







Late June 2016

July 2016

September 11, 2016

September 16, 2016

June 14, 2017
June 12, 2016 Skye Pilato is born

Michael Pilato visits Burma and purchases Budai Statue

Skye Pilato passes away







Michael visits Pulse and leaves statue at memorial

Pilato Moves to Orlando and begins working on Inspiration Orlando mural

Pilato and Karabash begin painting the mural

Item collected by History Center staff

Pilato visits museum to participate in oral history, discovers Budai has been collected and is featured in exhibition, One Year Later
Cooler Sometimes, common items come to represent something much more than their original function. Likewise, seemingly simple gestures, such as sharing cold water on a hot day, can be a symbol of the power of a giving community. Following the Pulse shooting, law enforcement from several agencies were working around the clock, engrossed in a crime scene investigation. Christ Church Orlando, located just three blocks south of Pulse, immediately offered their facility to the police and other officials as a place of refuge. There, individuals working long hours could stop in for food, use the restroom, or take a quick break in the air conditioning.

To combat the intense heat of June, the Orlando Police Department placed a large white cooler on the grounds of the club, filling it with bottled water for those working at the scene. Eventually, as portions of the grounds were reopened to the public, the cooler was left out but was no longer being filled regularly. Christ Church, once again, continued their role as a good neighbor when a member of the church’s staff, Stephanie Marino, began visiting the site twice a day to restock the cooler with water and ice. The intent was to provide for both the officers still on site, as well as mourners looking to pay their respects. This thoughtful gesture would continue for nearly three months. History Center staff, collecting memorial items from the property, noticed the stocked cooler and how quickly it was covered in signatures and handwritten messages. The cooler was eventually collected by museum staff, and over the next two years, the details regarding the cooler’s origins were pieced together, showing the interconnectivity of a community in mourning.
2002








June 12, 2016


Early July 2016


July 21, 2016

July 25, 2016

October 5, 2016

May 25, 2017

January 15, 2018
June 12, 2016 Christ Church Orlando, which had previously met at The Plaza Theater (now known as The Plaza Live), moves to their current location at 2200 South Orange Avenue







Sunday services cancelled, prayer vigil held in the evening for victims and families. Church opens its doors for use by law enforcement

Christ Church Orlando begins filling cooler at beginning and end of each workday, continuing for the next several months

History Center staff begins collecting at Pulse site, notes blank cooler

In a single weekend, cooler is covered in messages and signatures

Cooler collected by History Center staff

Pastor Paul Valo shares church’s response in an oral history with the History Center

Oral history with Stephanie Marino, the individual who visited the site daily to refill the cooler, conducted at the History Center

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Stories Not Yet Told

The One Orlando Collection is comprised of over 10,000 items documenting the Pulse Nightclub shooting, as well as the subsequent outpouring of community support. A majority of these items were carefully collected by History Center staff from memorial sites around Orlando. Each object has its own story to tell, and while we have been fortunate to learn many of them, the items found here represent those for which we have few details. If you recognize any of the items seen here as your own, have further information, or would like to share a personal experience, please contact us at oneorlandocollection@ocfl.net. To see many more items in our collection visit the One Orlando Collection Digital Memorial.

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An Empty Exhibition Case

While they serve many purposes, memorial items are not left at sites of tragedy to be collected by museums, and not all of them can be preserved. If you visited one of the four temporary memorials that sprung up in our community following the Pulse Nightclub shooting, chances are you saw thousands of beautiful mementos, as well as those worn by time and the elements. Some were simply ephemeral in nature, while others were washed away in the summer rain or irreparably damaged by the intense heat of the Florida sun. This empty case represents all those thoughtful items, left by members of our community in their darkest moments of grief, that we were unable to collect. It represents the many stories that will likely go untold.

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History of the Site

Icon Hand Drag.

This property located just south of downtown Orlando will forever be connected to the story of Pulse Nightclub. However, prior to becoming the popular LGBTQ establishment, the address was home to several other businesses over the years. Constructed adjacent to an already established residential neighborhood, the building has served the
local community, in one form or another,
since the 1960s.
1912 South Orange Avenue Pulse Nightclub Sign
1974 – 1975 Fast food restaurant which featured menu items prepared with Yum-Yum Sauce, a creation of entrepreneur Sandi McDonald. The restaurant was an evolution of the business that initially only sold customers the packaged sauce for use at home. 1971 – 1973 Yum-Yum Hut 1967 – 1970 Dixie Village Motors Sun Aluminum Inc. Automobile dealership, previously located just down the street at 2203 South Orange Avenue. In their advertisements, the business promised an excellent selection of quality cars. Company that constructed screen rooms, pool enclosures, car ports, and various other aluminum structures. Dixie Village Motors Ad 1961 Impala Car Courtesy Orlando Sentinel 1977 – 1998 1976 Papa Angelo’s Lorenzo’s Pizzeria Italian restaurant, sister location to another establishment sharing the same name in nearby St. Cloud. Italian restaurant popular with residents of the surrounding neighborhoods and staff from the nearby Orlando Health campus. In operation for over twenty years, Lorenzo’s was the longest tenured business at this address. Lorenzo's Pizza Ad Lorenzo's Pizza Ad Courtesy Orlando Sentinel 2004 – 2016 1999 – 2003 Dante’s Pulse Nightclub Restaurant/nightclub hybrid that regularly hosted musical performances from both local and national artists. It was during this time that the original space was combined with an adjacent structure, located at 1916 South Orange Avenue, to create the building as it stands today. Dance club and bar catering to the LGBTQ community. The vision of Barbara Poma and Ron Leger, the club would remain open for twelve years until the tragic events of June 12, 2016. Dante's Concert Poster Pulse Nightclub Interior Image Courtesy Jim Faherty 2018 – Present Interim Memorial Site of remembrance for the Pulse Nightclub shooting. While the building still stands, the interior is inaccessible to the public. The property serves as a memorial and is maintained by the onePulse Foundation, an organization designed to honor victims and survivors of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, as well as the first responders and healthcare workers who aided them. While the present incarnation of the memorial is intended to be temporary, the foundation plans to construct a permanent tribute on the Pulse site, preserving the building itself and creating a space to ensure the memories of the 49 victims live on. Pulse Nightclub Interim Memorial Rainbow

Share Your Artifact’s Story

Everyone has a story to tell. What physical object would tell an interesting story about your life? If you would like to share, please submit it to us. We will feature a selection on our social media.

What is your object? Where did you get it? Similar to those in this exhibition, write a brief story of your item. Include any memories and why it is important to you. See examples of submissions below.

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We Remember

Dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. May their lives and stories be remembered and their legacies continue to unfold. Explore items in memory of each of the 49.

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For more, visit our 2018 and 2019 Pulse remembrance exhibitions