ALEXANDRIA, La. - Candle-light vigils were held all over the United States to remember those killed in the Orlando terrorist attacks. The central Louisiana community gathered Monday to hold their own service in remembrance.
"These people weren't doing anything other than what any of the rest of us do,” said Eddy Lashney, a community activist, “which is trying to enjoy ourselves and live."
Forty-nine people in the Orlando nightclub called Pulse, have lost their lives so far, and it has shaken up not only the country, but the community in Cenla.
"I don't understand,” said Lashney, “if you're not harming anyone, why can't you just let people live?"
The Central Louisiana Aids Support Services organized a gathering for the whole community to share their feelings and find strength.
"We are lucky to have an amazing community downtown that is very accepting and inclusive of anyone," said Lashney.
The service sought to spread love and comfort, not blame.
"I would never say that it was a thing of Islamic terrorism, just because I feel like that fuels Islamic-phobia, which is rampant,” said Aaron Rogers, music minister at First Presbyterian in Alexandria.
“I don't want to look at any reasons behind it why, but just that it happened and that it was fueled by hate of some sort."
Those present found comfort in the belief that everyone is good at heart.
"I mean, I think most people’s hearts are open,” said Catherine Davidson, “they just need to open their minds."
"Jesus said to love your neighbor as you love yourself, and that's my creed,” said Rogers, “and I feel that everyone’s personal creed translates a different way, but with a similar meaning."
Event leaders expressed hope that the world can stand together in love to overcome hate, just like the candles spread to make light. Many present also believe that a perfect place is waiting.
"You know, I’ll be in heaven with everyone else,” said Davidson, “Gay, straight, or otherwise."