SARASOTA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Wednesday in Orlando, church bells rang 49 times to honor the 49 killed during a shooting at Pulse nightclub three years ago.
More than 500 churches around the world held similar tributes throughout the day.
The day of remembrance started around 2 a.m. when about 200 people gathered at the Pulse Memorial to mark the moment the lives were lost. They stood together grieving and praying.
Eddie Sotomayor was the first victim’s name to be read. He was the first face of the 49 victims. His friends and family in Sarasota will never forget that moment.
Their heartache continues. As time passes by, they say their goal is to make sure all victims are remembered.
Since Eddie was gunned down inside Pulse, his aunt says the pain eases slightly with each passing day, but she knows it will never leave.
“It’s still fresh in our minds,” said Patty Miller. “Nothing is the same. It’s just different.”
Eddie’s friend, Robb McGovern sang a song in Eddie’s memory Wednesday.
“It’s bittersweet now. It’s the little things that you start to miss,” McGovern said. “He was different. He was one of a kind. He still had the heart of gold and that’s what I miss the most.”
He says he lost his friend, but he also gained 48 others.
“By doing this we highlight him. Them and the unspoken victims that were injured and their families. I would like this continue and it just keeps it relevant and fresh,” McGovern said.
On the three year anniversary of the violent attack, mourners ask the community to keep the victims’ names alive.
“All those people at Pulse night club were young adults,” said Miller. “They had so much to live for and it was taken away from them for a senseless act of hate.”
A remembrance ceremony will be held Tuesday night at the Pulse Memorial in Orlando.