PARKLAND, FLA. (WSVN) – Communities in Parkland and across South Florida paid tribute to the 17 lives lost in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the third anniversary of the massacre.
7News cameras captured people leaving letters and laying flowers at Pine Trails Park in Parkland, where city officials hosted a community commemoration in honor of the victims, Sunday evening.
Survivors and victims’ family members were on hand in what was one of many tributes held Sunday.
“You’re never supposed to bury your child. It’s not supposed to be this way,” said Lori Alhadeff who lost her daughter Alyssa Alhadeff in the tragedy.
“It brings it all back to me,” said a parent.
“Sometimes, seeing first responders, it just brings you back to that day,” said Parkland resident Alisa Gonzalez.
A wellness center located nearby, meanwhile, offered a safe space for the community to mourn and reflect on the tragedy that has left a lasting mark across South Florida.
For Gonzalez, the tragedy still feels near.
“Definitely doesn’t feel like it’s been three years. I don’t think it will ever get easier.”
Sunday was also a day that once again brought them back together, as they honored the students and staff who lost their lives in Building 12 of the MSD campus.
“A day that was supposed to be filled with love was just taken away from everyone because of a hateful heart,” said Gonzalez.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis directed flags be flown at half-staff to honor the victims.
Back at Pine Trails Park, hundreds gathered, united in prayer.
Among those in attendance was Alhadeff who is turning her pain into purpose.
“It’s very hard, but it’s important that I’m Alyssa’s voice, Alyssa lives inside me, and that I use my pain into action and try to create change and try to make schools safer,” she said.
Ceremonies also took place across Broward, from Margate to Fort Lauderdale, all with the same message of hope, love and healing.
“We lost amazing people, and our community will be forever changed because of that,” said Parkland resident Alisa Gonzalez. “Valentine’s Day will never feel the same, and it won’t change until we get the change that we need to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else, especially at school.”
Broward County held a day of service in honor of the victims on Friday.
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