As cliche as it may sound, in the face of tragedy and adversity, people unite. We have seen it time and time again. We especially saw it when the worst mass shooting in the United States happened a mile from Boone.
On Sunday, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock fired down from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel during the country music festival, Route 91 Harvest, leaving 58 lives lost, not counting the shooter, and more than 500 injured. This senseless act claimed an extraordinary amount of casualties, and has shaken the hearts of Las Vegas, as well as the rest of the nation.
For Orlando citizens, it might bring back daunting memories from the Pulse Nightclub shooting in June of 2016. The few days following the shooting, the Orlando community was absolutely fractured. To say even the air outside felt different would be an understatement.
Vigils commemorated the lives of those lost. Filled with tears and memories, slowly, Orlando regained strength. We saw local leadership rally and strangers exchange hopeful positive thoughts for the future.
Now, 16 months after the Pulse shooting, Las Vegas will experience their traumatic road ahead. While none of us have first hand experience of what it is like there right now, we can imagine and visualize the pain and grief roaming through the air. For several people, the question is what now? One thing that Orlando citizens might advise others is not to live in fear.
Pulse caused pain, grief, hurt, anger and several other emotions, but it also caused a newfound alertness within the city. Every adventure or night out felt like one that might result in utmost violence. Despite that, it taught us that constantly living in fear can feel daunting and exhausting. It isn’t a life we would want to live.
As teenagers, we have lived through multitudes of mass shootings. More specifically, we have woken up to the news of the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, not once but twice now. It’s scary to consider that mass shooting locations vary from nightclubs, movie theaters, music festivals and churches.
The point being, it can happen anywhere. To restrict ourselves from enjoying our lives because of the fear that our life may be taken prevents us from living a life.
Our hearts are fully with Las Vegas and their community members. The thought of knowing someone in the midst of the tragedy, the thought of trying to visualize the location of the tragedy as the same ever again, is all an inevitable scary future. Las Vegas, we can’t tell you what to do right now because we wouldn’t know either, but try to grieve and try to heal from this senseless, hateful act. We know you can, and we know you will.
Orlando knows resilience is key. The strength of love and unity is much stronger than hatred and violence. We know that the road ahead is a rough one, but unity is strongest in the face of division.