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Ceremony marks anniversary of fatal California terror attack

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — Survivors of a terrorist attack that killed 14 people at a holiday party east of Los Angeles observed the fifth anniversary of the assault on Wednesday, and officials unveiled plans for a memorial to honor the dead.

A private memorial ceremony that also included families of the slain was held outside the San Bernardino County Government Center, where the memorial will be built, a county statement said.

Family members laid white roses at the site, the San Bernardino Sun reported.

One survivor, Kevin Ortiz, joined other people in laying flowers at the shooting scene, the Inland Regional Center, not far away from the Government Center.

“Today is a tough day. It definitely brings back memories,” Ortiz told KNBC-TV. “I was actually shot six times."

Ortiz said recovering has been a long process.

“After 21 days in the hospital, physical and psychological therapy as well, I finally feel like I’m in a lot better place,” he said but added of the survivors: “It’s definitely something we can’t forget. Something that does not go to the back of our mind. We think about it daily.”

Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, shot and killed 14 people and wounded 22 others who were attending a holiday party and training session for San Bernardino County health services workers at the Inland Regional Center. Farook worked with the victims.

Minutes later, a post on a Facebook page associated with Malik pledged allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State terror group.

The couple were later killed in a gunfight with police.

“It forever changed our lives,” Supervisor Josie Gonzales said after the private gathering. “Today, we start rebuilding what has been torn apart, in the form of a memorial.”

Plans also were formally announced to build a “Curtain of Courage” at the site. A committee composed of family members of the victims, shooting survivors and first responders is helping develop the plans, said Gonzales, who chairs the committee.

The memorial, designed by noted Oakland, California, architect Walter Hood, will consist of 14 alcoves — one for each of the dead — created by a series of curving bronze and steel honeycomb-mesh panels with colored glass pieces.

The panels with the wave-like alcoves will stretch on either side of a walkway.

“The panels simulate the curvature of a curtain and are situated around sitting areas to create a place of healing and reflection by evoking an image of a prism’s eternal sparkle," a county statement said.

“We didn’t want the space to be of sorrow, we want it to be of light, we want it to be of remembrance,” Hood said in a video.

The cost and completion date of the memorial will be determined later, but supervisors have set aside $1 million for the project, county spokesman David Wert told the Sun.

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