A candlelight vigil was held on Monday evening at Porter Park for the victims of the Orlando shooting.
The vigil was held to honor those killed in the shooting that took place Sunday morning at the gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, according to the Rexburg Vigil for Orlando event Facebook page.
Dan Melanson, creator of the event and a senior studying English, said the event was about people’s willingness to grieve with those who were grieving in the LGBT community and all those who were affected by the shooting.
“Now is a time for us to stand together and support our brothers and sisters that have been hurt,” Melanson said. “I also want anyone who may be on the LGBTQA spectrum here in Rexburg to know that there are those who love and support them.”
Gage Ackerman, a sophomore studying art, said he felt good to see an event like this happen here.
“Almost anyone can connect with this because they have opinions or connections to one or more of everything that happened there in Orlando,” Ackerman said. “I felt like there was unity and peace in the group, and it felt good to be there.”
Ackerman said the overall feeling was of understanding and love toward everyone.
“There were no labels, there were no judgments, there were no negative opinions, and there was no harshness about it,” Ackerman said. “It felt like there were good people all trying to band together to support one another and to be there for one another.”
Kolton Passmore, a freshman studying political science, said he liked how one person would begin singing a hymn and everybody would join in.
“The hymns were fantastic, and I like how everybody was speaking their thoughts,” Passmore said. “It was a great way to pay respect to those who lost their lives in such a violent way in Orlando.”
Passmore said there is nothing wrong with having strong beliefs about the family but that people should treat everyone like a brother or sister because that is who they are.
“We all have a human heart and a human soul, and we are all worth something in the eyes of God,” Passmore said. “Our brothers and sisters are our brothers and sisters.”
Passmore said people need to drop their barriers and love one another regardless of their differences.
“It’s moments like this that we have to recognize that it doesn’t matter what our sexual orientation, race, religion, creed or political views are,” Passmore said. “None of that stuff matters because human lives are human lives.”
Ackerman said he was glad he attended the event but that everyone can help by praying and loving those around them who may be personally affected by the tragedy.
“I thought that it was something good to show support for the loss and the tragedy that happened,” Ackerman said. “The main things that have gone through my mind are to pray for the victims and their families and friends and everyone who was involved.”