A proposal to have the planned Pulse Memorial and Museum in Orlando declared a U.S. National Memorial took its key step Wednesday when U.S. Rep. Darren Soto presented the measure to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources.
Soto’s presentation came after the U.S. National Parks Service Director David Vela announced his agency was taking no position on the bill because the federal government would neither own nor operate the Pulse Memorial, which is being developed and would be run by the onePulse Foundation, a private nonprofit organization in Orlando.
Soto welcomed that.
“There actually are ten examples already of national memorials that are not affiliated with our park service, from the National Memorial for Fallen Educators; the National AIDS Memorial, the Grove national memorial; and the David Berger Memorial, so we’ve done this numerous times before,” Soto said.
“It’s a rule national site,” Soto said. “We have artifacts from most of the 50 states, comprising of art, quilts, recognitions, photos … from across the nation. And we regularly have visitors from all over the nation, and internationally, just to highlight hownational this traumatic event was,” Soto said.
The Pulse Memorial and Museum is being developed at the site of the former popular gay nightclub, Pulse, the site of a mass shooting in 2016 that killed 49 people and wounded 53 others, and at a site to the east. The interim memorial at the site of the nightclub draws a steady stream of visitors who come to pay respects and to reflect.
In June Soto, of Kissimmee, and two other Central Florida Democratic members of Congress, U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park and Val Demings of Orlando, announced they would introduce House Resolution 3094, to give the memorial national status. Soto, who is a member of the Natural Resources Committee, was the formal sponsor.
Most National Memorials are owned and run by the U.S. National Park Service, but, as Soto said, some are not. HR 3094 would make Pulse a non-National Park Service-affiliated National Memorial, allowing it to raise money through public or private grants, and to be independently operated.
There were no suggestions of opposition at Wednesday’s hearing.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, vice chair of the committee who chaired Wednesday’s hearing, gave HR 3094 a strong endorsement.
“This was the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community to date and national recognition certainly is warranted,” she said.