"May ... no president ever have to sign another monument like this," President Joe Biden said at a bill signing ceremony Friday

By Jeff Truesdell
June 28, 2021 01:55 PM
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Pulse Night Club
Interim memorial on site of Pulse nightclub in Orlando

Declaring "we'll never fully recover, but we'll remember," President Joe Biden has signed a resolution to designate a national memorial on the site where a mass shooter killed 49 people at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando in 2016.

"May ... no president ever have to sign another monument like this," Biden said at a bill signing ceremony Friday.

The onePulse Foundation, the nonprofit group behind the push for a memorial, praised the step as "a clear and lasting message to the LGBTQ+ community that what happened at Pulse matters and will never be forgotten for future generations, and that we will always outlove hate."

As vice president, Biden traveled with President Obama to Orlando in the wake of the June 12, 2016 attack, which was then the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history. It's still the largest modern-day attack on the LGBTQ-plus community.

The killer, armed with an automatic assault weapon, was shot dead by police after a 3-hour standoff.

President Biden Signs Law Designating National Pulse Memorial
President Biden signs the resolution to designate the National Pulse Memorial
| Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty

"Just over five years ago, the Pulse nightclub, a place of acceptance and joy, became a place of unspeakable pain and loss," Biden said at the bill signing, where he was joined by survivors and family members of victims. "And we'll never fully recover, but we'll remember. And we have to."

Pulse memorial
Design for the National Pulse Memorial in Orlando
| Credit: OnePULSE Foundation

The designation, earlier approved by both houses of Congress, will "enshrine, in perpetuity, literally a monument to the loss that occurred there, and an absolute determination that we're going to deal with this every single, solitary day and make sure that we're not in a position to see this happen again."

Pulse memorial
Proposed museum that anchors the winning design for the National Pulse Memorial in Orlando
| Credit: OnePULSE Foundation

Private and local government fundraising already has collected more than $20 million toward a memorial estimated to cost upwards of $45 million, with no firm construction dates. Preliminary designs show a memorial that would encompass the still-standing nightclub building and be anchored by a museum that spirals into the sky "like a budding flower," according to the winning design's description, with interpretive displays, reflecting pools, contemplative gardens and a memorial walk linking the Pulse site a short distance to the hospital trauma center where so many were treated.

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But the foundation's mission includes more than just the building, and last month it announced $236,300 in its second annual class of 49 "Legacy Scholarships" to recipients for academic and career study that reflect the array of passions and interests of the 49 victims.

The national memorial designation - which comes without the promise of any federal funding - establishes the Pulse site as an LGBTQ landmark alongside the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco and the Stonewall Inn in New York City, which is considered the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement as the place where patrons fought back after a 1969 police raid on the gay bar.

Unlike the Trump administration, Biden, who has nominated LGBTQ persons to several top posts, has made LGBTQ rights a priority, including with his support for the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, reports Reuters. Also unlike Trump, he earlier issued a proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month.