By Shawn Chitnis

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The artist installing a permanent memorial for the victims of the Aurora theater shooting arrived on Tuesday to begin assembling the sculpture. It will pay tribute to those injured as well as the lives lost almost six years ago.

(credit: CBS)

“This memorial is happening sooner than anyone could have dreamed,” said Heather Dearman, the vice chair of the 7/20 Memorial Foundation board.

The artist selected for this project has created a sculpture that will incorporate 70 white cranes to represent the people physically injured in the shooting. Those birds will connect to 13 translucent cranes that represent the people killed, including relatives of Dearman. Her cousin, Ashley Moser, lost her six-year-old daughter and unborn child.

Heather Dearman (credit: CBS)

“It just represents exactly the journey we’ve been going through,” she said. “Out of that pain, things will grow and become beautiful, which is exactly what this garden is about.”

(credit: CBS)

Inside each crane will be messages written by the community. The notes cover a range of emotions felt by those impacted by the shooting. All the messages will be store in canisters placed within the sculpture.

(credit: CBS)

“Ascentiate,” the name of the sculpture, will sit in the city’s Reflection Garden by the Aurora Municipal Center.

That spot has become a gathering place for family and friends to remember their loved ones and for the community to come together and honor everyone affected by the shooting. It has changed over the years and now has 12 boulders that represent each of the families that lost loved ones on that day.

(credit: CBS)

“They have been my inspiration all along as I’ve been working with the other families to build this memorial,” said Dearman. “We have 13 angels up there who have been helping us along the way.”

The foundation raises money each year to support the memorial and now hopes to use that money to give back to the community.

AURORA THEATER SHOOTING: Story Archive | Timeline | Remembering The Victims

The third annual Reflection Garden on Tap Beer Festival is July 14 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The garden is located at 15151 East Alameda Parkway. This year the event will have live music and sidewalk chalk artists. It will also be your first chance to see the completed memorial.

(credit: CBS)

The completion of the memorial comes at a time when the foundation is trying to support other communities affected by gun violence. Dearman hopes the sculpture can be a symbol to other victims about what is possible when you lose a loved one.

“Having the milestone event, to have this sculpture in place that’s just so magnificent, is just going to make us feel even stronger,” she said. “There is hope and there is love and there is more love than there is hate.”

LINK: 7/20 Memorial Foundation Reflection Memorial Garden

Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.


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