ORLANDO, Fla. -- The stories of 49 lives are told in hundreds of photographs and portraits at the Pulse interim memorial, unveiled in a somber but joyous celebration Tuesday.

Survivors, family members and community leaders gathered at the site of the nightclub in south of downtown Orlando to celebrate the opening.

The interim memorial is meant to not only honor the lives of the 49 who died there June 12, 2016 but to showcase the acts of courage and community seen immediately after. 

The names of the victims are etched in glass, and there are also spots where you can see the nightclub itself. There are also planted trees and a panel where visitors can write messages.

Family members of Pulse victims said they were surprised by the level of detail in the temporary memorial, where construction began in February.

"My first impression was overwhelming, over the top, absolutely beautiful," said Tara Connell, mother of Cory Connell. "They did a wonderful job putting this all together."

"It's just beautiful," said Laly Santiago-Leon, cousin of Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon. "It's peaceful. I think it definitely speaks to what not just what we're doing, but for the whole community, for all the family members, for the survivors."

Sawyer Stroud, who was visiting from Phoenix, had not been back to Pulse since it was a nightclub.

"We came here all the time," Stroud recalls. His friend and coworker, Xavier Serrano Rosado, was killed in the 2016 attack.

"We used to perform together. (Xavier) always had a smile, always made everybody around him laugh. It's nice to know he will be well remembered," he said.

Barbara Poma, who owned Pulse and is founder of the OnePulse Foundation, said she wants the memorial to be a place where all people can find comfort, hope and courage.

"I hope they take away a kinder heart," Poma said. "I hope they make changes in their own lives. I hope they see what we endured here June 12 and they make a change in their community."

It could still be up to two years before a permanent memorial on the site is built.