By Bryan Nelson
The One Orlando Collection Initiative is a partnership effort between the Orange County Government and the City of Orlando with the aim of increasing our collective understanding of the tragic events that transpired at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. This goal will be accomplished through the creation of a comprehensive historical catalog of the numerous tribute items, artifacts and mementos left at the public memorial sites located throughout Central Florida in the days following the tragedy.
The Orange County Regional History Center located in Downtown Orlando has taken a leading role in the storage, photographing, cataloging, removal and preservation of the tribute items and mementos from the public memorial sites throughout Central Florida. This local institution will serve as the primary repository and caretaker of these timeless artifacts. The items within the collection will be cared for with the utmost dignity and respect considering their distinct historical significance. Additionally, numerous community stakeholders and partners have been involved with the collection and documentation process, making this initiative a truly collaborative effort recalling the wide outpouring of support we all witnessed in the immediate days following the Pulse tragedy.
Thus far, the initiative has managed to collect nearly 5,000 pieces of memorabilia placed at the various memorials that spontaneously arose across Orange County. Among the thousands of items are varying pieces of art, letters, poems, and photos. Also included in the collection are the 49 handmade white crosses that honor each of the 49 victims. The crosses where built and personally delivered by a retired carpenter from Illinois to the Orlando Health Downtown campus where many of the victims were transported to for treatment. In addition, a now iconic sofa left at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts which features handwritten condolences from local residents as well as individuals from across the globe is also included in the collection. The innumerable flowers left near the memorial sites were transported to the Henry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, where they will be turned into compost that will be used to nourish the gardens located throughout the City of Orlando.
The collection efforts began on June 27th and largely concluded by July 18th. On July 12th Orange County Mayor, Teresa Jacobs, accepted the 49 crosses at the History Center where they were escorted in by the Orlando Police Department. Items were collected from the Dr. Phillips Center memorial by the local Boy Scouts of America Central Florida troop. They performed the dignified removal of hundreds of American, Puerto Rican and other flags that were properly retired by the American Legion.
The Orange County Regional History Center will also be collecting digital items related to the Pulse tragedy, including photographs, videos, spoken stories, social media postings and other remembrances.
For additional information regarding the One Orlando Collection Initiative and pictures of the tribute items collected thus far, please visit: http://www.orangecountyfl.net/BoardofCommissioners/MayorTeresaJacobs/OneOrlandoCollection.aspx#.WCsrMvkrKUk.
Bryan Nelson sits on the Orange County Board of Commissioners and Represents District 7 which includes Apopka and Northwest Orange County.
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