LAS VEGAS – Authorities and residents of Las Vegas, Nevada, appealed on Monday for unity to get past the “unforgettable” deaths of 58 people a year ago at a huge open-air concert, where a lone gunman opened fire with automatic weapons in what became the largest firearms massacre in recent US history.
“Today we remember the unforgettable. Today, we comfort the inconsolable,” said Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval at a ceremony paying tribute to the victims on the anniversary of the massacre. “Today, we are reminded of the pain that never really goes away.”
The governor, who ordered flags on official buildings to fly at half-staff, addressed an audience of hundreds, including survivors of the massacre, relatives of the dead and of the 887 wounded or injured trying to escape the gunfire, along with police and paramedics who came to the site after receiving emergency calls.
Sandoval said that people would never be able to fully recover from that “tragic night” and emphasized that the unity that emerged in Las Vegas, saying that the city had become one community and one family.
The governor referred to the phrase “Vegas Strong,” which began being used that same night and which has been used again in various slogans linked to the city, appearing today on the T-shirts of hundreds of local students and teachers.
“Vegas Strong” is said with pride by locals who acknowledge that the massacre was a dividing point in the lives of those who attended the Route 91 country music festival, whether they fell or fled amid the hail of bullets rained down on them from a room high in the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel by gunman Stephen Paddock for reasons that are still not clear.
President Donald Trump marked the anniversary of the massacre and said that “All of America is grieving for the lives lost and for the families they left behind. So to all of those families and to the people of Las Vegas, we love you. We are with you.”
Trump said that in the coming weeks legislation will be ready to prohibit “bump-stock” devices that can be placed on semiautomatic weapons to make them fire faster, this device being used by Paddock to up his rate of fire in the massacre before he killed himself.
The victims of the massacre are being honored with a photo exhibit showing their faces in Las Vegas, while country music radio stations around the nation held a minute of silence in their memory.