Sept. 11 Monument Gets Hundreds Of Visitors

EASTLAKE, Ohio (AP) - More than 100 visitors a day are visiting a monument in this Lake Erie city that contains remnants of each of the Sept. 11 attacks crash sites.

The "Never Forget" monument is made of twisted steel beams from the World Trade Center, a few bits of granite from the Pentagon, and a tuft of wild field grass from Shanksville, Pa.

A Sept. 11 memorial service drew more than 2,000 people, but city workers and officials have been stunned to see the pilgrimage persist.

"This brings out something from inside me that I usually keep hidden away. It's difficult to touch it and realize how people suffered," Rose Zadel of Parma told The Plain Dealer while taking photographs of the memorial last week. "It saddens me and it angers me all at once."

Eastlake is believed to have the only Ohio monument that memorializes the Sept. 11 attacks with a piece from each site.

"You have to come here. It's almost compulsory -- you feel you owe it to them," said Calvin Potts of Mentor, who brought three Kentucky relatives to the monument last week. "This is hitting me harder than when I went to Ground Zero in June."

Eastlake Mayor Dan DiLiberto said it was his trip to the World Trade Center site this summer that spurred him to create the memorial.

"The idea was to make something that people could touch, something they could connect with, and they have," he said. "But I never expected them to keep coming like this."

The memorial is in a municipal back yard already home to the city's "Boulevard of 500 Flags" flapping on all sides, an "eternal flame" commemorating the 1996 arrival of the Olympic torch and various veterans memorials.

Many of the visitors this week came to the memorial just to take pictures.

Zadel plans to use her black-and-white images for a computerized memorial to those who died in the attacks. Others snapped images to take home as mementos.

Dozens of others have left tokens behind: dozens of flower bouquets are cleared away each morning by city workers. Workers leave the rest: "In God We Trust" bumper stickers, a military jacket, a "Never Forget" T-shirt soaked from overnight rain, snuffed-out candles and handwritten cards and poems all lining the brick border.

"I'm glad to be here and to see it because I've got some camaraderie, some connection with those men who died," said retired Cleveland firefighter Ed Modic of Fairview Park. "Those men gave up their lives like a fireman sometimes has to do."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)