April 28 marks 20 years since a lone gunman went on a rampage in Port Arthur, Tanzania, killing 35 people and injuring 23 others, and the victims are being honored by way of a commemoration service.
About 500 people attended the service held at the Port Arthur Historic Site on Thursday, according to Sky News Australia.
“We gather today to remember loved ones lost,” master of ceremonies Edward Gauden said. “We gather to remember those injured and we gather to remember those who gave so much.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was among the many that paid tribute to the fallen victims, laying wreaths near a café where the suspect, Martin Bryant, began his killing spree.
Turnbull also reflected on the horror that many Australians, including visitors, had to go through at the time of the ordeal.
“Some came to work, some came to relax and learn. It was to be another calm day amid the sandstone ruins,” Turnbull said at the historic site. “And then the horror. Despite the years, despite the healing, the sense of loss weighs heavy. We will never be the same.”
Tasmanian governor Kate Warner also spoke during the service, saying that the massacre should forever be remembered by all its citizens, 9news.com.au reported.
“Remembering the Port Arthur massacre should remind us to be vigilant about weapons which can allow one man to kill so many people so quickly and efficiently,” she said.
Port Arthur used to be the leading tourist attraction in Australia, but the 1996 massacre made an overwhelmingly negative impression.
“But with enormous grit the community has pulled together. Port Arthur has reclaimed its place as one of Australia’s greatest heritage attractions.”
The country has since created some of the most stringent and harshest gun laws in the world following the bloody killing spree.
A film about the life of Bryant is currently in the works. Writer and producer Paul Moder explained that the film would “absolutely not” be an exploitation of sorts and give the tragedy “unreasonable treatment.”