It was Mynda Smith who offered hope to the hundreds gathered at a ceremony to remember Oct. 1, 2017.
Smith’s sister Neysa Davis Tonks was one of the 58 people killed a year ago at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. She was a single mother of three sons.
Smith eulogized her sister while offering hope to those gathered in a day of remembrance to honor the one-year anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
“Our love must motivate us to move forward,” Smith said. “We have the right to feel angry and sad. Embrace those emotions, but don’t let them control you.”
On Oct. 1, 2017, at 10:05 p.m. Pacific time, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock broke through the window of his suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and fired at 22,000 people gathered at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, listening to Jason Aldean wrapping up the night’s show.
The early-morning event to honor that day included comments from Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Las Vegas Metro Police Sheriff Joe Lombardo. Two employees of Mandalay Bay, including security guard Jesus Campo, were on stage and recognized but did not speak. Both declined interview requests.
“We will never fully recover from that fateful night, nor should we,” Sandoval told the crowd of hundreds gathered at an outdoor amphitheater in downtown Las Vegas. “But from that night of Nevada infamy came one of our proudest moments. We became one people, one community, one family. We cried. We grieved, and we resolved to become Vegas strong.”
Sandoval said he was going to attend other remembrance events including a blood drive and prayer service.
At 10:01 p.m. local time, the Vegas Strip will go dark as casinos and others will turn out marquee signs.
Smith put a face and a family on what was lost a year ago.
“Today, I stand here with so much pride for our city and our country,” she said. “I have learned and watched firsthand the meaning of being Vegas strong.”
She said none of the 58 families will be the same. She took the time to point out the magnitude of how this shooting affected the country.
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SOURCE: USA Today; Reno Gazette Journal, Siobhan McAndrew