Luminarias are lit at Ely Square for the 9//11 Remembrance Service Sept. 11.
STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE Enlarge
ELYRIA — Dozens gathered at Ely Square in downtown Elyria in the cool evening with the light from the sunset shining between the buildings for a 9/11 memorial service Tuesday.
The event is the brainchild of Heather Sorg and Bobbie Sears, who started the first memorial service in 2011. Sorg couldn’t make it this year, but Sears made sure to send her friend’s love and dedication to the people gathered.
It’s been 17 years since two planes flew into the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City, killing 2,977 people and scarring millions. Mayor Holly Brinda spoke about her experience Sept. 11, 2001, while working at Cleveland State University. What affected her and her family more was that her daughter returned from New York City just five days before that tragic day.
“I remember the innocence of my daughter’s face just going out in disbelief that we could have been there,” she said. “It was all of us when we saw it. We lost our innocence in that moment.”
With so many years having passed in America, the question of “where were you on 9/11?” also has added “What has changed since 9/11?” Brinda continued that the years following changed her and her fellow Americans in what they knew and expected from the world and themselves.
“As a country we became unified, we were no longer naïve about war, the importance of military and the necessity for preparedness,” she said, “We also recognized the importance to fight back and sense that we cannot sit back and let others put in the effort.”
Music and performances from community members and the Veterans of Foreign Wars helped at the event, as well as local fire and police joining in solidarity.
At the end, guests were encouraged to decorate a luminaria, which were placed around the fountain in the square. John Fatch, 61, of Elyria, decorated two luminarias for his father who was a Marine and his brother who served in the Reserves. Fatch recalled when he first heard about a plane flying into the Twin Towers, he thought it was a prank, until he turned on the TV. In the time in between then and 2018, he said he’s proud to be in the U.S.
“No matter if it’s a hurricane, a natural disaster, a tragedy, the United States gets back up on its feet,” he said. “Sometimes it takes them a little bit, other times it takes them longer, but they won’t quit.”