HOUSTON - On this 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, visitors from all walks of life came to Lauren’s Garden in Market Square Park.
The word almost everyone used to describe the memorial is “peaceful.”
Lauren’s Garden is for Lauren Catuzzi Grandolas, a Stratford High School graduate. She was 3 months pregnant with her first child when she died on Sept. 11, 2001, on board United Airlines Flight 93.
Her father told KHOU the serene, powerful tribute has helped the family grieve.
“We have three daughters. Lauren was kind of the maverick in the middle and just a very vivacious, beautiful young lady,” Larry Catuzzi said.
Catuzzi Grandolas' family worked with the City of Houston to design the space.
“She was a lover of the outdoors. She loved to hike, she loved to kayak, so we really needed to create a space that felt very natural, that was kind of an ode to nature,” said Angie Bertinot of the Downtown District.
The remembrance also honors the nearly 3,000 other victims. The rocks on the bottom of the monument represent each life lost 17 years ago. The three pillars represent the three sites that were attacked.
“Every year on the anniversary, I come to Lauren’s Garden to remember what happened. It’s so tragic,” said Phil Brayton.
Brayton didn’t know Catuzzi Grandolas, but had a friend who died in the attack at the Pentagon.
Native New Yorker Emily Young was in 10th grade at the time.
“None of us are ever going to forget that, as a country," Young said.
She recalled how united the country was right afterward.
“There wasn’t a single house in the neighborhood that didn’t have a flag up and a yellow ribbon around the tree,” Young said.
The tribute is also here for younger generations who can’t remember.
“I learned about it in school, but I never learned about it too much,” said 8-year-old Emma Asen.
Emma’s mom Danielle says she brought her to the memorial to teach her about how life changed in the early morning hours of Sept. 11, 2001. She wants her daughter to understand the significance of that day and the heroism shown.
“This is a great symbol of courage and hope and perseverance,” Asen said.
Catuzzi Grandolas' family has also set up a foundation in her name that gives scholarships to girls.
Empowering young women through education was one of Catuzzi Grandolas' passions.
Her father says so far, 71 girls have been able to go to college through the foundation’s grants.