The onePULSE Foundation opened the Pulse Interim Memorial to the public with a dedication ceremony May 8.
The foundation was joined by Pulse victims’ family members, survivors, first responders and community leaders for a dedication that opened with Pulse survivor Brian Reagan singing “Hallelujah” and included a bilingual opening prayer from Rev. Stanley Ramos, a dedication blessing from Orlando Health chaplains Phyllis Fitzwater and Jason O’Rourke, a video message from survivors and family members and a musical performance of “Together Again” by entertainer Tymisha Harris.
Eric Crittenden, onePULSE Foundation’s board chairman, spoke to the crowd saying that the Pulse Interim Memorial dedication not only marked a special place in Central Florida history, but also in American history.
“This moment of rebirth is an affirmation of the resilience of which the United States is known,” Crittenden said. “We will not, and we did not, be kowtowed to an act of mass hatred or terrorism.”
Founder and CEO of onePULSE Foundation and owner of Pulse nightclub, Barbara Poma spoke at the dedication thanking the Pulse families, survivors and first responders for their continued support in the memorial process.
“Their willingness to come to meetings and give their input, even in their toughest moments making hard decisions, is a true reflection of the love and understanding they have for this important journey,” Poma said.
The process for creating the interim memorial design was led by Kody Smith, Christina Hite and Greg Bryla, of the landscape architecture firm of Dix.Hite + Partners, and David Stone of Phil Kean Design, all of who worked closely with onePULSE Foundation’s memorial task force.
“They labored over every detail to make sure it was respectful, dignified, cost efficient, impactful and most of all reflective of our community,” Poma said of the design team. “Everything you will experience here is intentional. It has purpose. It is because of their love and compassion for all those affected by the tragedy.”
Rial Jones and Chris Contino of Jones Clayton Construction led the two month construction of the interim memorial which converted the Pulse property into a memorial park. Poma thanks Jones and Contino for their care of Pulse and for recognizing that this was not just another property.
“This is sacred ground and they treated it as such. Thank you both for taking such good care of Pulse,” she said.
The Pulse Interim Memorial contains photographs of the community after the Pulse tragedy affixed to a paneled wall that surrounds the Pulse nightclub. The photos were all selected by Chief Curator Pam Schwartz and her team at the Orange County Regional History Center. Several of the panels are clear, allowing visitors to look in at the building itself. On the wall near the nightclub’s front entrance is a panel listing the victims’ names.
The park’s landscaping, the sycamore trees, the bench bases and an electronic guest book kiosk were all among the items and services donated for the memorial. The now iconic Pulse sign has been enhanced with message boards attached to its base for visitors to write notes.
“The list is so long of people who just wanted to be a part of this. It is so reflective of Orlando’s reaction,” Poma said. “It is utterly heartwarming how everyone still wants to be a part of what happens here. The people of Orlando, they love their city. They love their people. We are family.”
The interim memorial is open to the public while planning and design of the permanent memorial are underway. The Foundation’s Design and Construction Committee, led by Vicki Berman, reviewed and approved the interim design, and will soon begin efforts to oversee the design of the permanent memorial and museum.