None of Jennifer and Kris Pierson's four children were born when four terrorist-hijacked passenger airliners were crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside Sept. 11, 2001, claiming the lives of nearly 3,000 people.
But Jennifer Pierson said she is teaching her children the lessons learned that day and to revere the memory of the civilians and first responders who were killed. That's why she brings them to the annual memorial ceremony at First Responders Park at Center and Main streets in Hilliard.
"We come every year. I think it's important to educate (our children) about it," said Pierson, who was at the park Sept. 11 with her 3-year-old son, Braden, and 1-year-old daughter, Kinsley.
Her older daughters, 10 and 12 years old, were playing sports that evening, but Braden and Kinsley huddled near the reflecting pool at First Responders Park while local leaders spoke about the events 16 years ago.
Since its dedication Sept. 11, 2010, First Responders Park has served as a place for residents to reflect, to grieve and to resolve, especially on each anniversary of the terrorist attacks when community members and first responders fill the park.
"We come together to remember, to never forget how that day felt and to ensure that a similar event will never happen again," Mayor Don Schonhardt said during the ceremony. "That is why First Responders Park was built and dedicated ... so (we) have a place to reflect and to keep the memory of 9/11 alive among the future generations in Hilliard."
Hilliard Division of Police Chief Bobby Fisher said, "We gather tonight to remember and honor the lives lost 16 years ago, senselessly killed in the most horrific attack to ever occur to the homeland of our great country. ... Two thousand, nine hundred seventy-seven Americans died that day and their names are etched on the walls behind me."
More than 400 were first responders, he said.
They left for work that morning, Fisher said, not knowing it would be the last time.
"Their commitment and their sacrifice that we gather tonight to honor is the very resolve that our county was founded on," Fisher said.