Sandy Hook mother: Orlando is an all-too-familiar horror
A mother who lost her daughter during the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting has shared a message of support for Orlando.
At least 49 people were killed and 53 were injured in the shooting at the Pulse gay club in Orlando over the weekend.
With more than a hundred now confirmed dead or injured, the shooting is the most fatal in American history – passing the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, where 20 children and seven adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Nelba Márquez-Greene, who lost her six-year-old daughter Ana Grace Márquez-Greene at Sandy Hook, penned a Facebook post after the horrific events in Orlando.
She wrote: “My first reaction was visceral. I know the horror of waiting to hear. A helicopter flew overhead. It made everything too real. Too familiar.
“I panicked. I called my friend. I cried. Fifty people.
“I am reliving being one of the family members in wait.
“And then she told me. An attack against people who are gay. A specific group. Just like last year around this time. The 17th of June. A Black church. My head is spinning.”
She said: “My message was and is and always will be ‘love wins’. And this is why I must [continue].
“How do I tell my son that fifty people all died the way his sister did? And in one of our favourite places: Orlando, Florida.”
Ms Márquez-Greene continued: “I am waiting for the church to be as outraged about gun violence as much as we seem to be about who pees where in a Target bathroom.
“I have one message for those families in Florida: I am sorry. I am so, so sorry. I am sorry that our tragedy here in Sandy Hook wasn’t enough to save your loved ones.
“I tried and I won’t stop trying. Don’t you dare even listen to even ONE person who may insinuate that somehow this is your loved ones fault because they were gay or any other reason. Nor is it God’s wrath.
“They did that to us on Sandy Hook- too. And it broke my heart. You will receive love from a million places. Embrace it. Take good care of yourself.
“This will be a forever journey. Some ugly will come your way too. Delete. Ignore. Let it go.
“Your loss today will bring out the worst AND the best in all of us. May we commit to being our best selves in honour of what you now bear.”
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She added: “I don’t know what to tell my son. But know I will commit to learning about each and every one of your loved ones.
“And we will commit as a family to learning about their lives and the legacies you build in their memory. But I am so sorry.
“Because you shouldn’t have to be doing this. You should be planning summer outings to the beach and barbecues and birthdays and graduations. And I know it will never be the same.
“My son will learn about your loved ones. And we will not forget. We will say their names out loud. We will remember your children. As you remembered and learned about ours.”
The campaigner urged people to donate directly to the families of the victims. A GoFundMe page set up for a victim support fund has topped $3 million dollars. Equality Florida has pledged that “Every penny raised will be distributed directly to the victims and their families”.