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:
❤️🧡💛💚💙💜 As we move forward from the @PulseOrlando tragedy, we come together to #RememberThe49 and share why our employees #ActLoveGive in honor of the victims and survivors. #OrlandoUnited pic.twitter.com/spr8hf162p— Orange County FL (@OrangeCoFL) June 12, 2019
We will never forget the tragedy that rocked our community three years ago @pulseorlando. We still grieve. But #WeWillNotLetHateWin— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) June 12, 2019
Take a moment today to remember the 49 beautiful souls whose lives were cut short. #LoveWins@onePULSEorg pic.twitter.com/1ATsQIrHDH
Today we honor and remember the 49 victims and the survivors of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy that occurred three years ago. You are forever in our hearts and minds. #OralndoStrong #Pulse pic.twitter.com/QWr00suvs1— Seminole County S.O. (@SeminoleSO) June 12, 2019
On this day, and every day, we remember the 49 innocent lives taken on June 12, 2016. pic.twitter.com/ATOIP4cHnB— Mayor Buddy Dyer (@orlandomayor) June 12, 2019
On the eve of the Pulse tragedy, we will never forget the 49 victims as well as the survivors. This evening we placed 49 flags in honor of them outside of Station 5. pic.twitter.com/ZTW9Xxt5KH— Orlando Fire Dept (@OrlandoFireDept) June 12, 2019
If you or someone you know was impacted by the Pulse tragedy and is in need of support, resources or hope, you can reach the Orlando United Assistance Center by calling 407-500-HOPE or visiting --> https://t.co/eer1MdYl1f pic.twitter.com/jcomDHFeCT— City of Orlando (@citybeautiful) June 11, 2019
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