WILLOWICK, Ohio — For 9 years, a family in Willowick has been paying tribute to the lives lost on Sept. 11 with a yard display.
After a small display last year, in light of the political climate, this year Bill Sabin said he wanted to go bigger. On Friday ahead of the 20th anniversary of the attacks, almost 3,000 American flags are in this front yard along with police patches from across the country and firefighter helmets.
Sabin said he wanted this year's display to stand out.
"It kind of grabs your attention and you want to be bigger because you want those people to be remembered," Sabin said. "I won't allow anyone to forget them. It's too important.”
Sabin said he remembers Sept. 11, 2001 nearly to the minute. He was watching the morning news when the first plane struck the twin towers.
“I was sitting on my parent's couch and I remember I was eating a bowl of cereal," he said. “Me being ex-military, my first thought is that's terrorism. And the second plane hit and I'm like, 'that's definitely terrorism.' And then I think I spent the next eight hours sitting on the couch with that same bowl of cereal. I never ate it.”
Sabin is a Navy veteran, serving our country for six years.
“Greatest time in my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything," he said.
Sabin said people from all over national Northeast Ohio stop by to check out his display. Last weekend a man who was visiting family in Lake County from Florida even stopped by. Sabin soaks in every minute he can with visitors.
"I like to come out here and meet as many people as I can," he said. "To me it’s all worth it. Every second I spend out here.”
The Willowick resident said the display serves as a time for people to reflect and grieve, but also as a teaching moment for parents who bring their children.
“Which is what it's meant to do. You don't want anyone to ever forget," Sabin said.
In addition to flags spelling out 9/11, Sabin made space for a smaller display in this yard dedicated to the 13 men and women who died in last week’s attack in Kabul. Sabin said he wants their families to know he will never forget them and their service to our country.
His work doesn't end with planting flags in the yard. On Friday, Sabin is planning to stop by area fire and police departments to deliver meals. He said it's a way to say thank you and let them know he'll always remember their brothers and sisters who died on Sept. 11, 2001.
If you want to pay a visit to his home, it's on East 326th Street in Willowick.