ORLANDO, Fla. - June 12 marks the anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in the United States, the day on which 49 people lost their lives at Pulse nightclub in Orlando and more than 50 others were hurt.
Leading up to the first-year since the attack, more people are starting to show up at the club to pay their respects.
Many people outside of Pulse told Channel 9’s Len Kiese that they’re still in disbelief that the shooting happened.
“(We) still have all these memories so vividly in our hearts,” said Terlisa Sheppard, who visited the Pulse site.
“To see it on TV or in pictures is nothing like being here in person. Then it really hits home,” said Brian McDonald.
Family and friends plan to go to Pulse at 1 a.m. Monday and meet behind the fence for a private service of remembrance.
Two public events at Pulse have been scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. and 10 p.m.
“The more people come and celebrate their lives and honor them, the better,” said Jim McDermott, who visited Pulse.
"Many lost their lives, but it should be a learning, teachable moment to spread love and joy,” said another person who visited Pulse.
For Carolina Garcia and Cheryl Obenchain, seeing the Pulse nightclub memorial in person was a must for them during their short visit to Orlando.
“It’s something that I don’t think really can be put into words. It’s just a very empty feeling,” Garcia said.
The two are visiting from Chicago and wanted to pay their respects. They left written messages at the memorial.
“I wrote, ‘Always in my heart.’ Always in my mind because you’re always thinking about these things,” said Obenchain.
First responders honored
Along with remembering the victims and survivors on Monday, people will also honor the first responders who showed up in full force last June.
“A year later and I still see that day every day,” said Orlando firefighter paramedic Joshua Granada.
“We think about it every day and we talk about it every day,” said Orlando firefighter paramedic Carlos Tavarez.
Granada and Tavarez were the first firefighter paramedics to respond to the Pulse attack.
Their actions, along with those of other first responders, have not got unnoticed. The Florida State Firefighters Association honored the firefighters Friday with 2017 Firefighter of the Year awards.
WFTV Channel 9 will also host a town hall meeting on Sunday to discuss the Pulse terror attack and how the community has changed in the last year.
Channel 9 anchors Greg Warmoth and Martha Sugalski will talk to Pulse survivors, government leaders and law enforcement.
The town hall special will air at 7 p.m. Sunday on Channel 9. It will also be streamed online here.
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