President Joe Biden on Friday signed a law designating Pulse Nightclub as a national memorial five years after a gunman wielding a semi-automatic rifle and a semi-automatic pistol burst through the doors of the former venue in Orlando, Florida, and murdered 49 partygoers.
The attack occurred at 2:02 a.m. on June 12, 2016, as LGBTQ individuals and their allies in the Sunshine State and across the United States were celebrating Pride.
The assailant entered the club and opened fire into the crowded bar and dancefloor, killing 49 people and shattering the belief that bars, clubs, and speakeasies are safe spaces shielded from a frequently cruel outside world.
For decades, they have served as respites, places of employment, and sanctuaries for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning individuals to congregate, explore, express themselves, and work. Countless activists, artists, designers, musicians, and politicians found themselves – and were likewise discovered – while reveling in the protective cocoon of nightlife merriment.
Thus, what happened at Pulse was far more than just a solitary act of savagery – it was a precision-guided missile into the souls of millions of people for whom nightlife has provided a home and an unconditional family.
Biden commemorated the shooting on June 12, the anniversary of the massacre.
During Friday’s signing ceremony at the White House, Biden was clearly emotional as he delivered remarks before inscribing his name onto the legislation:
Just over five years ago, Pulse Nightclub, a place of acceptance and joy became a place of unspeakable pain and loss. And we’ll never fully recover, but we’ll remember. And we have to – what we’re gonna do is what the members of Congress here did and enshrine in law as a consequence of that law enshrine in perpetuity – literally a monument to the loss that occurred there – and absolutely determination that we’re gonna deal with this every single solitary day and make sure we’re not in a position to see this happen again
Because behind me, you see on the board there the 49 names of the lives lost – family members, families, friends, veterans, students, young, Black, Asian, Latino – all fellow Americans. In their memory and for the countless others forever scarred is why I signed this today. And let me just say – and I mean this sincerely – the commitment of the members of the House and Senate is to make sure that we don’t forget, that this isn’t forgotten.
Always optimistic, Biden made a joke to lighten the mood:
Now there’s a tradition that when a bill is signed, the president gives a signing pen to each of the people who had something to do with the law or the decision being made in the first place. I promise you I have all the pens but in the other room. I couldn’t figure out how to assign them all but don’t leave without the pens, alright? Alright.
As the ink dried, Biden issued a solemn plea:
May I never have to sign – may no president have to sign another monument like this. Thank you.
Watch below via ABC News:
"We'll never fully recover, but we'll remember."
Pres. Biden signs National Pulse Memorial bill, "a monument to the loss that occurred there and absolute determination that we're gonna…make sure that we're not in a position to see this happen again." https://t.co/BlYhhcOhVg pic.twitter.com/E6tNvMQsDa
— ABC News (@ABC) June 25, 2021
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.