ORLANDO, Fla. - Survivors and victims' relatives and friends are marking the fifth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, the Orlando community suffered a horrible tragedy, as gunman Omar Mateen opened fire inside the gay nightclub, killing 49 people and wounding another 53.
Each year since the shooting, Orlando has been holding remembrance events to honor the lives lost on that tragic night.
In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, the Orlando community suffered a horrible tragedy, as gunman Omar Mateen opened fire inside the nightclub, killing 49 people and wounding another 53.
While devastated and mourning, Orlando pulled together and stood united in the face of adversity. Citizens joined first responders and officials in aiding the surviving victims. Dozens were saved thanks to the quick actions of those first responders and medical professionals.
Just hours after the shooting, vigils and memorials arose in every corner of the city, as people paid their respects. One of the most remarkable moments was the Lake Eola vigil, which almost 50,000 people attended. It did not take long for the rest of the world to follow, as more memorials and vigils popped up around the globe. Even hashtags like #LoveWins and #OrlandoStrong trended internationally.
US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden place flowers for the victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub Sunday at a memorial at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, Florida, June 16, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB
On the one-year anniversary of the shooting, Orlando held "Orlando United Day." This citywide event gave people an opportunity to join with others in acts of love and kindness, further continuing the unity that followed the tragedy. A whole day of events throughout the city ended with a "Remembering Our Angels" commemoration at Lake Eola.
Crews also completed a rainbow-colored crosswalk near the nightclub as a colorful memorial to the victims.
The community gathers to remember the anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting on what has become "Orlando United Day." This image is from the June 12, 2017 remembrance ceremony.
An event honoring the 49 victims of the June 12, 2016 mass shooting was hosted by the onePulse Foundation and held at the Pulse Interim Memorial on the second anniversary.
"I can't believe it's been two years," said Pulse owner Barbara Poma. "It's never going to go away," Poma said. "It's not something we're going to get over. It's something that will live with us forever."
In May of 2018, an interim memorial for the 49 victims of the shooting opened to the public at the site of the Pulse nightclub. The club’s sign was improved and a new fence was placed around the nightclub’s perimeter with images from Pulse and tributes to the victims and survivors. This memorial provides a place for visitors pay their respects and leave messages until the permanent Pulse memorial is completed in two years.
The two-year anniversary has also brought litigation. In the run-up to the commemoration ceremonies, some of the surviving victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre filed a lawsuit in federal court, saying that the city and police did not do enough to stop the shooter.
Pulse victims, survivors, loved ones and community leaders gathered in front of the temporary memorial in 2019 to show their support for a major announcement.
Only days before the third anniversary of the Pulse terror attack, members of Central Florida's congressional delegation said they were introducing legislation that would designate the nightclub building as a national memorial.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most events marking the four-year anniversary of the Pulse tragedy had to be virtual. The onePULSE Foundation held a virtual ceremony that included the reading of the 49 names by family members, and remarks from several city leaders.
Many gathered at the memorial to pay their respects.
Five years have gone by since the Pulse shooting left a permanent mark on the hearts of Orlando residents and those around the world. To honor the lives lost that day, the onePULSE Foundation planned a week of activities leading up to the 5th anniversary on Saturday, June 12, 2021.
More than 2,000 runners hit the pavement in downtown Orlando on Saturday for the fifth annual Rainbow Run. Filmmaker Charlie Minn says he’s re-releasing his documentary "49 Pulses" on Friday.
"The worst day in the city’s history. And every story fades over time. That’s why I’m re-releasing the film this Friday," Minn said.
Days before the anniversary, the United States Senate has passed a bill that officially designates the Pulse Nightclub site as a nationally recognized memorial. Senator Rick Scott introduced and passed by unanimous consent the resolution recognizing the anniversary of the Pulse tragedy and honoring the 49 innocent victims.
New this year, the onePULSE Foundation has teamed up with City Furniture for a campaign called "Love Notes." It is a way to let survivors, first responders, and those who lost loved ones that night know that they are still in our thoughts. Cards will be placed on a colorful table along with pens in all 22 City Furniture stores, so the community can write a kind word or an inspiring message to honor the 49 lives lost on June 12, 2016.
On Saturday, June 12 at the Pulse Interim Memorial from 7 - 8 p.m., the Five-Year Pulse Remembrance Ceremony will be held (invitation only), with live streaming open to the general public at Dr. Phillips Center Frontyard FestivalTM. Also available on the onePULSE Foundation Facebook Page and YouTube Channel. (onePULSEfoundation.org/.)
Watch FOX 35 News for the latest on how Orlando stays united in love.