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By Rick Sallinger

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Five years to the hour, a crowd gathered in Aurora to mark the fifth anniversary of one of the area’s most horrific events.

It was July 20, 2012 when a gunman covered in armor walked into the showing of a Batman movie and opened fire.

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(credit: CBS)

Twelve were killed, dozens were injured. Now, another milestone on the road to remember, and at the same time move on.

They came with flowers, candles and tears; family, friends, and first responders.

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(credit: CBS)

Deidre Brooks was one of those who spoke at a midnight memorial to the victims and to give thanks to the first responders.

Despite her son Jarrell being injured in the shooting, he saved lives. Now he has graduated from college.

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Deirdre Brooks (credit: CBS)

But the named crosses of those that were not so fortunate served as a temporary memorial to them, including the youngest: Veronica Moser Sullivan.

Her cousin, Heather Dearman, recalled the young girl, saying “She was happy all the time and she had such a beautiful smile.”

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Heather Dearman (credit: CBS)

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(credit: CBS)

Dearman has been one of those leading the way to turn this ground into a permanent memorial by next spring.

The night was also a chance to honor those who responded to the shootings in so many different ways.

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(credit: CBS)

The word heroes is often used loosely, but on July 20, 2012, true heroes turned a scene of carnage into order and lives preserved.

Representatives from different law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and more spoke.

A procession of police cars passed by those gathered who broke out in applause.

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(credit: CBS)

One by one as the names were read of those who died that night as balloons were lifted into the sky.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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