ELYRIA — Heather Sorg had just pulled a near “all-nighter” Sept. 11, 2001, as she tended to her newborn son, Malik Holt.
Being only 3 weeks old, Malik, now 17, didn’t sleep well.
So when he slept, so did his mom.
And as Sorg slept the morning of Sept. 11, violence was erupting hundreds of miles away in New York City.
Eventually, Malik’s dad came home and asked Sorg if she had seen the news.
“I told him I was up half the night with a baby,” Sorg said. “He then walked to the living room and turned on the TV, and I just really could not believe what I was seeing. It was like watching some Hollywood-action blockbuster.”
Meanwhile, Bobbie Sears was working as an operator at what’s now University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center with no immediate access to news.
“My husband called, and I went across the hall and watched when the plane hit,” she said. “It was like watching a movie — unbelievable.”
Still, 17 years later, it doesn’t seem real to her.
On the 10th anniversary, in 2011, Sorg noticed nothing was being done in Elyria to commemorate that day.
“I decided to hold a small candlelight vigil at Ely Square and was going to have someone sing, read a poem and have a prayer and that would be it,” Sorg said.
Sears saw the social media post about the event and wanted to help, so she reached out to Sorg.
It was then they realized their bond went beyond wanting to bring comfort to those affected by the terrorist events on Sept. 11, 2001.
While on Facebook Messenger one night, the two ladies began chatting about the event and how they would bring in more people to draw attention to it.
“Heather was in the Reserves at the time and we decided we would do something,” Sears said. “We had never met and when we did, we found out my son and she went to school together.”
After the first social media “meeting,” Sorg and Sears met in person to host the first event in 2011, and the two have continued the partnership ever since.
“We’ve been doing the event yearly since then, with the exception of 2015 … I ended up sick, there was a downpour all day and Bobbie’s husband was in the hospital,” Sorg said.
This year’s event will start 7 p.m. Tuesday in Ely Square. Guests are encouraged to make a luminaria to honor those who not only died during the terrorist attacks on the United States, but for those who have died protecting our country during the war on terrorism.
“For me, the event is to remind people that it happened and that terrorism is still a threat,” Sorg said. “Also, to share a part of our history, although tragic; this event has caused changes in how we live today in America.”
Sears said for those who recall the events of Sept. 11, 2001, they will always be connected — some way, some how. And while many of the stories are heartbreaking, it’s important that Americans come together to show the world they cannot be defeated, she said.
“By bringing a community together we can make a difference and share feelings and be reminded that any time or place, our world can come crashing down,” Sears said. “But, somehow through the ashes, we always bounce back when we are united.”
Sorg and Sears thanks the following for help with this year’s remembrance service: Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda, deejay Duane Bloomingdale, Gold Star Mothers, bagpiper Kevin Palm, the Rev. Tommie Harris, Debra Rose, speaker David Root, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1079 Honor Guard, American Legion Post 12 and Elyria police, fire and LifeCare employees.