Florida has seen two of modern America’s most nightmarish massing shootings in as many years and on Wednesday the people hit hardest by the tragedies came together to heal.
At the site of the 2016 shooting, survivors of the Orlando nightclub attack met with some of those who made it out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high alive this past Valentine’s Day.
It was a deeply emotional embrace at the very site where Omar Mateen murdered 49 people inside Pulse, a popular gay nightclub in the central Florida city.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Parkland survivors laid one white rose for each victim of the attack on the gate surrounding the nightclub.
It was a stop both groups certainly welcomed.
“We’re all family,” said Neema Bahrami, who once worked as Pulse’s event manager.
The students were en route back home following a trip to Tallahassee to petition for stricter gun laws when they swung through Orlando.
As victim embraced victim, sorrow turned to strength. And while Florida legislators failed to be swayed by Parkland’s pleas, the attendees in Orlando promised they’d “get it done.”
Two hundred miles south, it was another emotional embrace Wednesday–this one between police officers greeting returning students with words of support, two weeks after Nikolas Cruz allegedly gunned down 17 with an assault-style rifle inside his former high school.
As students returned, they were greeted by members of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, who presented them with flowers as they made their way back into their classrooms.
Members of multiple law enforcement agencies were also on hand to offer support and lend a sense of security to traumatized students.
Community members also displayed welcoming banners inside school for the kids to view on their return.
Others, including some parents of Stoneman Douglas students, stood outside in a show of solidarity as the day began.
Extra counselors were on hand for the students’ return.