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Six months later, Orlando contemplates unity, loss from Pulse

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The sun never quite rose in Orlando Monday morning as fog and thick overcast lay a mourning atmosphere for the city’s six-month remembrance of the day it can never forget.

Southeast of downtown Orlando, at the city’s Greenwood Cemetery, the Earthly remains of Cory James Connell, Anthony L. Laureano Disla, Leroy “Indara” Valentin Fernandez, and Alejandro Barrios Martinez reside together in still-fresh graves, grouped near the fence along Anderson Street. The flowers adorning their stones also are fresh, as is the loss, the horror, and the pain of the June 12 Pulse gay nightclub shooting that put them there.

It’s been six months since madman Omar Mateen shot Connell, Laureano Disla, Fernandez, Barrios Martinez, and 45 other people to death, wounded scores of others, and injured the lives of countless others. The city, the region, the LGBTQ community, and the Hispanic community all were shaken and pledged unity forever. Orlando United. Remarkable political embraces have taken place and appear to have brought new shared understanding.

No place might ever know how such binding of souls necessary in the wake of something like Pulse can change people, and a city.

On Monday an early-morning vigil took place at Pulse. Events are planned later today at The LGBT Center of Central Florida, and the Orange County Regional History Center

Yet it is at Greenwood and other grave sites scattered around Orlando, Kissimmee and elsewhere that the true measure of the loss can be found.

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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