Aurora Strong: 7/20 Day of Remembrance ceremony

AURORA, Colo. - The City of Aurora handed out white flowers Saturday morning to hundreds of residents gathered for a ceremony to honor the victims and survivors of the movie theater shooting one year ago.

The ceremony began with an address and a prayer led by Pastor Reid Hettich, chair of the Aurora Community of Faith.

"366 days ago it would have been inconceivable for us to be here or that we would need to be here," he said.

Hettich went on to say that it helps to gather now to grieve together and engage in service to the community.

It was a theme Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan had touched on during an earlier interview with 7NEWS.

"As a community, we're past that grieving part," the mayor said. "Now we're into that healing, but there needs to be a reminder that healing doesn't occur in the same way with everybody."

To help with the process of healing, Aurora planned thirteen service projects to follow the ceremony. Some of the projects will take place at the newly opened community resilience center, where counseling will also be available.

Governor John Hickenlooper spoke at the ceremony, before reading the names of the 12 people who died in the shooting. A bell rang for each name.

In his speech, Hickenlooper also took time to focus on the strength of the community and to praise the first responders.

"We also need to focus on the actions that happened in those days after the shooting," he said.

Of the ceremony, shooting survivor Joshua Nowlan said, "It was amazing to be able to see so many people come together to honor the 12 that have fallen and the rest of us that are still struggling through all the physical and emotional pain."

After the ceremony, attendees lined up to place their white flower at a memorial wreath.

The ribbon across the center of the wreath said, "In memory of those lost and whose lives were forever changed."

The ceremony Saturday also included two musical tributes. The Hinkley High School Choir sang "Amazing Grace" and a local band, Sleep Well, played a song they wrote after the shooting.

"I'm the person I am today because I grew up here," band member Sam Columna said. "I'm really thankful for that."

The song is called "Heroes" and it begins by describing a memory:

"Utter disbelief and a sheer lack of words.

Unable to sleep because of what can't be, that you just heard.

Phone calls fail to connect you to the panic you can't believe.

You grew up right there. There's no news nowhere.

God, I’m so scared.

Give me something. They could all be there."

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