ORLANDO, Fla. — Dozens of people gathered outside of Pulse nightclub at 2:02 a.m. Wednesday, exactly three years to the moment that the first shot rang out, beginning what – at the time – became the deadliest mass shooting in modern history.
Hours later, before sunset and under the glow of a rainbow, 1,500 people again gathered outside the club for a public remembrance ceremony.
June 12 marked the third anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people, physically wounded 53 and traumatized hundreds more.
Survivors said even though three years have passed, the pain from that tragic night is still very present.
"Many of the friends and family are here reporting to the loved one's we've lost and for the survivors too, many of them are still going through surgery, unfortunately," Pulse survivor Orlando Torres said.
Events were planned all day remembering the victims and survivors of the attack from blood drives to bell tolls for each victim.
Well before the sun rose Wednesday morning, a steady stream of people made their way to the Pulse memorial sharing a moment of silence together just after 2 a.m.
"We are always going to be supporting our survivors," said Jim McDermott who lost a friend in the shooting. "That's what we are here to do. We are here to make sure that it’s not just about a memorial. The true legacy of Pulse are the people that have come together to unite together and to protect Orlando."
Some survivors said they are still working on their recovery whether it be mental wounds or physical.
"There's one friend I know who still has a bullet near his spine, waiting for it to shift so, it's an ongoing thing," Torres said.
Torres said coming together to remember is important.
"We have love and I’m sure if the whole world was close by they'd be here too," he said.
Before he spoke at the evening ceremony, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer reached up and pointed to the sky where a rainbow arched overhead.
"It would not be a Pulse remembrance ceremony if we didn't have a rainbow," he said.
You can watch the full ceremony below:
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