ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) — It’s amazing how quickly a year has gone by.READ MORE: Seminoles Suspend Sports Betting After Court Rulings
Church bells will toll throughout the Orlando area as residents reflect on the 49 patrons killed during a massacre at the gay nightclub Pulse in the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history.
Starting in the early hours Monday, and continuing almost 24 hours later, survivors, victims’ families, city officials and central Florida residents will remember the victims with four services.
“They’re a part of you. I poured myself into my children and it’s like a part of me is no longer here,” said Maria Wright, the mother of victim Jerry Wright, who spoke with CBS4’s Carey Codd.
For the past year, the lives of Maria and Fred Wright, Jerry’s father, have been filled with the realization of their loss, a staunch advocacy for gun control and a desire to make sure something like this never happens again.
“We don’t want anyone else to go through this, this has been the hardest year of our lives,” said Maria. “There have been moments that I have thought I’m not going to be able to do it.”
“We’re gonna continue to meet our lawmakers,” said Fred. “We’re gonna continue to press the issue because we truly believe that if we were to blame somebody, it’s our lawmakers, because our lawmakers have not done enough to keep us safe.”
The first memorial service is closed to the public, and it’s being held at the nightclub for survivors, local officials and club employees. It will overlap with the exact time that gunman Omar Mateen began firing shots — a little after 2 a.m. on June 12, 2016.
It is followed by another midday service at the nightclub, and an evening gathering in the heart of downtown Orlando. A final, music-filled late-night service is being held at the nightclub.READ MORE: 23rd Annual 'A Home For The Holidays At The Grove' Comes To CBS On Sunday, December 5th
Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State during the attack and was eventually killed by police during a shootout after a three-hour standoff. His wife, Noor Salman, is facing charges of aiding and abetting and obstruction in federal court, and she has pleaded not guilty to helping her husband.
On Monday, local churches throughout Orlando have arranged for church bells to ring simultaneously, 49 times at noon.
Local officials also have declared the one-year mark as a day of “love and kindness,” and they are encouraging residents to volunteer or perform acts of compassion.
An exhibit of artwork collected from memorial sites set up around Orlando after the massacre will be shown at the Orange County History Center, and a giant rainbow, gay-pride flag will be unveiled at the Orange County government building.
Not all the survivors planned to attend the events, saying it would be too difficult.
“There’s going to be so many things going on that I feel it will be overwhelming for those affected,” said Ricardo Negron, who managed to escape the club without physical harm after the shooting started.
Demetrice Naulings said he would likely go to some of the commemorative events but he wasn’t looking forward to it. Naulings also escaped from the club but lost his best friend, who was fatally shot.
“Seeing all of the other people from the club, I’m pretty sure the hugs will be teary. I’m not looking forward to that,” Naulings said. “I’m not looking for ‘I’m sorry.’ I feel like that doesn’t help me. I feel like that is pity and I don’t want pity.”MORE NEWS: Sharp Increase In Hospitalized Children With Covid Investigated In South Africa
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