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Memorial services held on anniversary of Pulse nightclub shooting

Fla. shooting anniversary

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Hundreds of people have left flowers, cards and drawings at Pulse nightclub to remember the victims who were killed a year ago in Orlando, Florida. 

Many cried and strangers hugged each other during solemn remembrances on Monday as the names of the 49 victims of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history were read out loud.

According to CBS affiliate WKMG-TV, multiple services will be held throughout the day. About 50,000 people are expected to attend an evening service in the heart of downtown Orlando at Lake Eola. A music-filled, late-night service will be held at the nightclub.   

Gov. Rick Scott has ordered for U.S. flags around Florida to be flown at half-staff. A giant rainbow flag will be unveiled at the Orange County government building. 

Church bells throughout the Orlando area rang 49 times at noon.

The first ceremony was held shortly after 2 a.m., and was closed to the public. It was held for survivors, victims' families, club employees and local officials. It overlapped the time a year ago that gunman Omar Mateen started shooting inside the nightclub on "Latin Night."

Pulse owner Barbara Poma and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer spoke to families and friends of the victims during the private ceremony.   

"I realize that gathering here in this place, at this hour, is beyond difficult," Dyer said during the service. "But I also know that the strength you've shown over the past year will carry you through today and in the future." 

Communities remember Pulse nightclub victims on 1 year anniversary

People laid flower and lit candles early Monday outside the perimeter at Pulse. The fence has been decorated with vibrantly-colored banners. Some dressed as angels and stood guard outside the club before the service.   

The private service was the start of what would be almost 24 hours of observations to remember the victims who died as well as the dozens of Pulse patrons who were wounded during the shooting.

The Orlando Gay Chorus performed Rachel Patten's "Fight Song" during a second service, which was held around 11 a.m., outside of the nightclub. 

Monday's services culminated several days of events aimed at turning the grim anniversary into something positive. A foot race was held over the weekend, and eight gay and lesbian students were awarded $4,900 toward their college studies by a local businessman. Local officials 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. The club's owner, Barbara Poma, is developing plans to build a memorial at the Pulse site.

Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) 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. 

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