‘This destroys me, but it builds me’: Pulse survivors, families and community gather to honor victims

ORLANDO, Fla. — On Saturday, the sight of Pulse nightclub was a safe place for people to reflect, grieve and remember.

But before and after the ceremony, people came to pay their respects five years later.

People spoke in hushed, respectful tones as people to the time to remember the 49, the survivors and how the Pulse shooting impacted them personally.

WATCH: Rainbow appears over Pulse 5-year remembrance ceremony

“The reason I come here is because love is love at the end of the day, no matter gay, straight, bi,” said Nicholas “Nicki” Premier, who was outside the nightclub in 2016.

Coming back isn’t easy; she lost five loved ones.

“This destroys me, but it builds me,” Premier said.

Watch the entire ceremony below:

LIVE UPDATES: Hundreds gather for Pulse remembrance ceremony

Families like the Browns brought their children to Pulse on Saturday. The girls don’t know all the details of the mass shooting, but it’s the beginning of a conversation, not the end.

“It’s very hard; I get emotional,” Lisa Brown said. “It’s very hard to bring them up in a society like this.”

Becca Grech said it’s a miracle they didn’t lose a loved one. They planned to visit Orlando that day. But Saturday was their first time visiting.

READ: Five-year mark of Pulse attack spurs people to live their lives in honor of those lost

“Visibility is important. banding together is important,” Grech said. “So that’s really why I came out.”

Horrific memories still haunt the survivor’s minds, but they are determined not to let those memories replace the ones they have of Pulse nightclub that taught so many inclusion and love.

Hate stole Adam Strand’s friend Jerry Wright from him, but he came to Pulse Saturday to prove that it did not win, and that the sacred ground is now a bad place anymore.

“I have a lot of friends who won’t come here because they’re scared. And I think, that’s not what my friend Jerry would’ve wanted,” Strand said.

WATCH: Channel 9 presents ‘Pulse: 5 Years of Healing & Hope’

Brandon Wolf made it out of this building that night, but his two best friends did not.

And he made them a promise, that he would never stop fighting for a world of which they would be proud.

“This community’s resilience taught me that when we choose to stand together, we are unshakable,” he said.

The remembrance ceremony was attended by family members, survivors and first responders. However, hundreds of people gathered at the Doctors Phillips Center a few miles up the road to watch the ceremony live-streamed.

Cierra Putman

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.