20 years after 9/11, Lake County man honors lives lost with elaborate display

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WILLOWICK, Ohio (WJW) –  As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, a Lake County man says no American should ever forget that terrible day.

For the last nine years, during the week before 9/11 is commemorated, the 48-year-old Bill Sabin puts up an elaborate display in front of his home on East 326th Street in Willowick.

There is a flag on display for each of the victims.

“There were close to 3,000 people, plus the people we lose daily that were down there for search and rescue and are dying from cancer, and we can’t let them be forgotten,” said Sabin.

Putting together the touching display each year is the passion of the U.S. Navy veteran. Sabin says 9/11 is the modern day Pearl Harbor and fears that with each passing year, the memories of 9/11, like Pearl Harbor, are slowly starting to fade.

“And to me, that’s very sad because this is something we should talk about more often. They should teach this in the schools. There’s kids now in the schools that weren’t alive when this happened, and I really think it’s a teaching point,” he said. 

Sabin’s neighbors, and those who make a special trip to Willowick to see the display, say they look forward to it every year. Some find it inspiring, while others find it a sobering reminder of that terrible day 20 years ago. 

Christine Tabone, who often pauses at the display as she takes her daily walk, told FOX 8, “Honestly, I feel deeply moved and I think that with everything that’s going on, it feels comforting.”

Tabone says she is grateful for Sabin’s steadfast commitment to keep memories of 9/11 alive, and she believes Sabin’s display is a reminder that America is better when the country is united.

“I think, unfortunately, the way things are, it’s definitely fresh now in a lot of people’s minds, so I think there were probably periods over the last 20 years where it wasn’t as raw, but I feel it’s been rekindled,” she said.

On Wednesday afternoon, a man in a minivan pulled over and thanked Sabin for the 9/11 display.

“I love when the people stop because it actually makes everything I do and the time I spend doing this and thinking about what I’m going to do next, it makes it all worth it,” said Sabin.

The display at 289 E. 326th St. in Willowick will remain up until Sunday morning.

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