Most agree that the word tragedy can hardly encompass what happened in Las Vegas, NV on October 1, 2017. Yet, it is just as important to realize that the word strength is not enough to describe the remarkable response to that catastrophe by the people of Las Vegas. That is why so many have been using the newly coined term “VegasStrong” to explain how those in Las Vegas responded and intend to continue responding to those horrific events.
Strength in Unity
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority introduced the idea with a stunning public service message they released within days of the tragedy. Narrated by Las Vegas native and professional tennis champion Andre Agassi, it includes nothing more than a sweeping view of the famous lights of the city and some of the most powerful words imaginable.
As the camera grows closer and closer to the familiar skyline, viewers hear Agassi (off camera) talk about strength: “What is strength?” he begins, “Strength isn’t anger. Strength isn’t vengeful. Strength isn’t rage. Strength is unity…Strength isn’t evil or misguided. Strength is the voice of community and love in the face of the unspeakable….Strength is when we all pull together and rise up, all of us in every corner of this world. Strength is what we all are today and strength is our promise for tomorrow.”
Describing the heroism of valet parkers and everyday people as well as first responders and medical crews, the one minute advertisement is an urge to unity, something the strong Vegas community has long been known for.
Further proof of this is the way that so many people in the community continue to come together to support the victims of the tragedy. There are several VegasStrong t-shirts available through “artist Shepard Fairey, DJ Steve Aoki, the UFC and MGM Resorts”, as well as the Vegas Golden Knights, UFC and others. Most show that amazing skyline and are meant to “create powerful visual messages of unity to depict the strength and resilience of this community…[and] give us all a message of hope in this dark time.”
Though some expressed surprise at the pace at which Las Vegas seemed to get back to business as usual, those in the city itself expected such a fast response. As one article explained about the resumption of the different trade show activities within days of the event, Las Vegas “displayed unwavering resolve to continue…” and mirrored the comments of Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter. In an official statement, he explained that “Las Vegas is a strong community that will work through this tragic incident…”
So, what is VegasStrong? As we have seen already, it is an amazing level of resolve in the face of enormous heartbreak and tragedy. It is looking at a “horrific yet isolated incident,” and finding ways to work together to help those who suffered, it is keeping the lights burning bright when things seem their darkest.
Las Vegas is known for its lighthearted atmosphere, and this has added an element of additional sorrow to the events that transpired. For years, the city has had a tagline of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” but with the tragic events of October 1, all of that changed. An outpouring of support has come into Vegas from all corners of the globe, ensuring that the city knows it does not stand alone. In response to that, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority responded with an uplifting message back to the world. “We’ve been there for you during the good times. Thank you for being there for us now.”
As Agassi said, VegasStrong is clearly a promise for tomorrow based on all of the unity of today.