This has been a very emotional and painful few weeks for The City Beautiful — not our own City Beautiful here in Coral Gables, but the City of Orlando.
Yes, it is true, Orlando, Florida also bills itself as The City Beautiful and a few years ago, we negotiated a shared use of the name as our cooperative brand.
What seemed like a simple legal exercise at that time now has a deeper meaning and stronger impact, and one that draws us closer, binds us together and deepens our familial bond.
While it is true that we don’t share a lot in common with Orlando on the surface when it comes to all things “beautiful,” on a day like that fateful Sunday morning, that no longer matters.
When we awoke to the tragic news of a massacre of innocent young lives, we were all Floridians, all Americans and all horrified members of a greater community.
I must admit, I was overwhelmed by the emotion, the loss and the rampant speculation. Why did this happen? Why today? Why in The City Beautiful? Why?
It is quite possible we will never get the full story or the answers that we want. What we know is that 49 members of the LGBT community, our brothers and sisters of The City Beautiful, are no longer with us.
They no longer have the opportunity to contribute to the American dream — to write their own story in the annals of human history. They — and their talents — are lost forever.
Chambers of commerce are in the talent development business, so the news of this tragedy — including the death of one FIU alumnus — hits very close to home and the impacts may be felt for years to come.
The youngest victim was only 18, just barely old enough to understand that there is real hatred in this world, driven in many cases by a lack of understanding and compassion.
The oldest victim was 50, identifiable to so many of us in the business community who are in the primes of our lives, full of the wisdom that middle age affords us.
And so, I cry for the loss of innocence, the loss of life and the loss of what could have been in these young, burgeoning lives so full of hope and promise.
They were merely out on a Saturday night, having a great time, listening to music, dancing to the beat, holding the hand of someone who made their heart soar.
I cry for the hurt inflicted by a man quite possibly driven by his own self-hatred and fears, the hurt felt by those who now must bury their loved ones way too soon, the hurt felt by a grieving state, nation and world.
All of us have been to a club or community gathering much like the one in Orlando. We have been carefree and locked into the pure fun and joy of being with friends, away from work, sharing the best moments in life.
I cry for the anger that this massacre has created, the anger and politicization that now permeates the constant dialogue, the anger that is rampant on social media platforms that is hard to avoid and ignore.
We can, and must, do better for our neighbors, our friends, our fellow Floridians and Americans but mostly for each other.
We must find a way to protect our community from the evil and hatred that is anything but an American value. We must work tirelessly together to end the violence, the hateful words, the pain that is our Orlando.
I cry for The City Beautiful. I cry for the 49 lives we have lost.
I want to stop crying.