EASTLAKE, Ohio - Melissa Batistic sat quietly by herself on a gray park bench facing Eastlake's memorial to Sept. 11 victims and survivors, her eyes slowly welling with tears. Batistic has come here to reflect almost every year since the memorial was built. The importance of the date weighing heavily on her memory.
"It's emotional. I think we tend to say not to forget and the reality of it is that we really can't forget. How can you forget the pain and the horror, what you saw, what you witnessed, what you felt?" said Batistic.
"I think what we forget a lot though is what we felt as a community afterwards. How we all came together and were neighborly and kind."
Batistic had a past coworker whose father had passed away in one of the Twin Towers. She often remembers being on the phone with her mother that entire day while the events played out on their television sets, both terrified for the victims and their families.
Most visitors to this 9/11 memorial on Tuesday didn't have to have a direct contact with someone who died to appreciate its impact; evoking deep emotions in most everyone who touches display items such as a twisted i-beam, or a slab of granite.
Former Eastlake city councilwoman Lynn Moon brought her granddaughter by late morning to share the experience.
Moon felt proud to see the impression on Eastlake visitors that the memorial has left. Her deceased husband's plaque hangs on one of the American flagpoles displayed at Eastlake's Boulevard of 500 Flags surrounding the 9/11 memorial.
"How appropriate it is to be among all the other courageous people who have given their lives for this country. Freedom just isn't free," said Moon.
Farrah and Marissa Kacar were one of many mother-daughter tandems sharing the experience with each other. At only 3 and a half years old, Marissa may be too young to fully appreciate the memorial's depth of America's part in history, but Farrah is intent on making the visits there an annual lesson of life appreciation post 9/11.
"She wasn't around when all of this happened. I think it's important to take time today especially to say a prayer and come and see some pieces parts of the buildings and what happened. It's important to make sure the younger generations know what happened then to say a prayer and that they think of others all the time and think about this country, and how it changed us forever. I think it's important to instill those values early," said Kacar.
Eastlake's Sept. 11 memorial at the Boulevard of 500 Flags can be found at 35150 Lakeshore Blvd. in Eastlake.