50,000 attended a vigil at Lake Eola following the Pulse shooting

June 19th, 2016
There had been several vigils around the city, but this was the biggest one. There were an estimated 50,000 people in attendance. It was the single most amazing event I've ever witnessed.
There's a lot of cynical, pessimistic people out there, and I understand. With so much bad in the world, things can seem like an uphill struggle. A lot of people go by the saying "Don't be a jerk." Well, there's a difference between not being a jerk and going out of your way to be a good person. And let me tell you, if this is any indication, the world is truly ripe with good people.
This vigil was beyond description. Tens of thousands gathered to mourn loss and celebrate life. It was an emotional experience unlike any other.
There were so many people that I didn't get a chance to photograph. People of different ethnicities, races, genders, sexualities, and religions. All going out of their way to love each other.
While I didn't get close enough to see them, the speakers were all phenomenal. Their words elicited cheers around the lake. A couple local musicians gave incredibly heartfelt performances.
Flowers, candles, flags, and victim names lined the lake. Towards the end of the vigil, the names of the victims were read. As each name was listed off, certain groups of people cheered. Friends and families of those lost. It was the first time I've ever cried for people I don't know.
There were tears. There was immense pain. But there was also laughter, joy, friendship, and most of all, love.
The vigil ended with Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo╩╗ole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" followed by John Lennon's "Imagine."
Love. Love all you can. The world needs it.
-J.W.
© 2015 J.W. Hendricks Photography