AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – In a sea of somber, Jansen Young’s love for her boyfriend still blossoms.

“I dropped a petal to memorialize those who were lost, but I want to hang on to my rose because I need to remember John. I need him around me all the time,” Young said.

Jonathon Blunk was one of the 12 killed that horrific night. He shielded Young from a bullet, sacrificing his life to save hers.

“I’m grateful for life,” Young said. “Today should be about celebrating life and memorializing people who passed.”

Hundreds shed tears and some friends and family held each other tight as they paid tribute to the victims at Aurora’s Day of Remembrance ceremony. The community’s emotions are just as raw a year later.

“I just wanted to be special. I wanted him to know I was here for him,” Chelsea Willman said.

Willman holds five roses for her friend AJ Boik who was killed in the gunfire.

“He was smart, he made all of us laugh and have a good time. He was compassionate and caring. He had a way of touching people. So five things for you bud,” Willman said.

Brandon Dirito and his sister survived that night, they not only hold a rose, but a tree close to their hearts.

“It’s for the planting and knowing it’s good. It’ll grow just like we’re growing,” Dirito said.

Growing stronger, knowing life goes on, and as they leave a rose remembering love conquers all.

“I miss my loved one very, very much,” Young said. “I hope he knows where heroes go.”

There were also many other activities like yoga and art therapy after the ceremony, to help the community heal.

– Written by Heather Burke for


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