December 21 is National Homeless Memorial Day to pay honor to people who've died facing the elements. Wednesday, residents gathered for a candlelight vigil.
With candles in hand, a prayer is said in memory of 17 homeless people who have died this year in Tallahassee alone, the fourth year residents have gathered at Carter-Howel-Strong Park for the candlelight vigil. Organizers say the vigil in the park is significant because it's a popular gathering spot for the homeless.
Cheryl Phoenix for Big Bend Homeless Coalition says, "We just thought it was real important to honor them and to remember then and to honor the lives they had here with us."
Reverend Michael Henderson with Grace Mission Episcopal Church adds, "We need to remember that each one of these persons were someone's child, husband, wife, brother, sister. They're not just names, they're real people."
For the past 15 years, this memorial day has been observed on December 21st in cities all across the nation.
Rep. Curtis Richardson was attending the ceremony for the first time in Tallahassee and said, "The numbers are growing who are homeless are getting younger, and unfortunately many are dying on our street, and we need to bring the public's attention to that so that hopefully as a community we can do more to address this issue."
Many people attending knew the deceased. Others were braving the cold temperatures just to pay respect. December 21 is the first day of winter, and the longest night of the year.