Once again, our nation has been forced to drink from the bitter well of sudden, horrific, and violent death as inflicted by one of our fellow citizens heavily armed with guns. Through the terroristic and hate-filled actions of one man in Orlando, Florida, 49 people are now dead and another 53 were wounded, some gravely, in what is now known as the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States.
Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) joins people of goodwill and peace everywhere who are expressing both profound sadness and the highest levels of outrage over the unspeakably gruesome actions of the mass murderer. In addition, we are united by our deep concern for the families of those who perished in this cowardly act, and by our unending hopes for recovery of the wounded.
The membership of MVFR is broad and diverse. We boldly embrace our diversity and view it as a sign of our strength. Therefore we fully understand the intersectionality of our nation, and the ways that all of us, as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once suggested in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, are “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”
To be sure, the Orlando mass murderer intentionally targeted a venue frequented by members of the city’s LGBT community. However, what he did not know was that his terroristic and hate-filled actions were actually crimes against all of humanity, and they caused all communities to grieve and express anger. MVFR members are grieving with LGBT communities across the nation, and we are angry over the targeted acts of violence carried out against members of the LGBT community in Orlando.
The investigation of this heinous mass murder is important and must be carried out carefully and with precision. While some may elect to use this moment to gain political momentum, MVFR respectfully asks people of goodwill and peace everywhere to be intentional in remembering the families of those who died. The realities of sudden, traumatic death are numerous and complex. In his book, “What To Do When The Police Leave: A Guide to the First Days of Traumatic Loss,” Bill Jenkins indicates that victims’ families have several essential and immediate tasks to carry out such as gathering their support systems, notifying significant persons, addressing the media, making funeral arrangements, and talking with the police. These and other tasks, short-term and long-term, must be carried out even as family members are grieving. In short, the Orlando victims’ families will need ongoing care and sustained support well into the future.
On behalf of the members of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, I offer prayers, meditations, and hopes - all rooted in love - for the families of those who were killed in Orlando, for those who were wounded, and for all of their respective family members. We commend those who exhibited bravery and compassion as they sought to save lives and provide care during this tragic occurrence. Finally, we stand in solidarity with LGBT communities and people of goodwill everywhere who refuse to allow the actions of this mass murderer to lead us to live in fear. Instead, we choose to live in hope.
The Reverend Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr., Executive Director
Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation