"Never forget these men," artist Kevin Bate said, before flipping a switch in the 1700 block of McCallie Avenue, lighting up a portrait of the five fallen military servicemen.
Bate said he became inspired to make the portrait, located on a wall across from Joy's Flowers, the day after last year's July 16 shooting. He began painting in September, and over the next 10 months, he became close with some of the family members.
Bate and the family met Friday for lunch and to give them a chance to observe the painting uninterrupted. Still, some returned tonight to see the mural with the coed.
"I'm so glad you made it," Bate said as he hugged Cathy Wells, mother of Lance Cpl. Squire "Skip" Wells, one of the five victims.
The crowd watched a 15-minute documentary about the process of making the paining tonight, followed by speeches from Bate and Mayor Andy Berke.
"These portraits show them as who they really are," Berke said. "Fathers and husbands and sons. Workers."
Around 10 p.m., Bate flipped the switch to illuminate the portraits. They will remain illuminated indefinitely.