ORLANDO, Fla. - Hundreds of people gathered outside Pulse nightclub on Wednesday night to mark three years since a gunman took the lives of 49 people.
"June 12, 2016, changed our city forever," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
"Sometimes huge change comes only by huge tragedy," said Dr. Joel Hunter in his opening prayer.
"It’s still hard to grasp that it’s been three years," said Barbara Poma, the owner of Pulse nightclub.
"Sometimes the pain makes it feel like it was yesterday, and other times the overwhelming exhaustion makes it feel like an eternity."
The people who gathered at Pulse also gave thanks to the first responders, who responded so early that morning.
They watched a slide show that included pictures of law enforcement from all over Central Florida set to a song called "Thank You, First Responders."
It also thanked the men and women who helped save lives at Orlando Regional Medical Center, a trauma unit that sits only 2,100 feet away from Pulse.
"On that morning, they were tireless, they were focused and they were relentless in their dedication to saving as many lives as possible," said Mark Jones, president of Orlando Health.
Poma thanked all of the residents of Central Florida for their support, and she promised that each year will be marked to honor those who lost their lives in such a tragic way.
"You are never forgotten, and you are never alone," she said.
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