ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — There's nothing that can give Mayra Alvear back what she lost, or ease her pain, or calm her anger.
With one gesture, she at least felt some joy again.
Underneath a softly swaying banner displaying the number 49 — commemorating the number of lives lost — and as first responders unfurled and held a massive American flag for the national anthem, the Orlando Magic paid tribute Wednesday night to the victims and survivors of the Pulse gay nightclub massacre with an emotional ceremony immediately before the team's season-opener against the Miami Heat.
"We felt the recognition needed to be significant," Magic president Alex Martins said. "We think part of the healing process for our community is making sure we don't forget. And we felt it was most appropriate that we do it on opening night, so it receives the proper recognition and exposure — but also gave the greatest number of our fans the opportunity to recognize and remember."
Some survivors were present, as were some relatives of those who were killed on June 12 in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The gunman, Omar Mateen, was killed after a three-hour standoff during an exchange of fire with SWAT team members.
"What the Orlando Magic are doing is amazing, is beautiful. I'm honored and grateful," said Alvear, the mother of Pulse victim Amanda Alvear. "That they are lifting the number 49 out of respect, a symbol for our 49 Pulse angels, it has a deep meaning — demonstration of love and that they care, that all of them will be remembered."