SCHERERVILLE | As Schererville's 9/11 memorial ceremony started Wednesday evening, a light drizzle fell over the Police Department parking lot.
The drops quickly faded away, but memories of the terrorist attacks from 12 years ago remained strong.
Several speakers reflected on what happened and how it affected the country.
The most vivid recollection of that day came from Don Bacso, a World Trade Center survivor.
Bacso, of Dyer, described how he arrived at the North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001, and headed to the 57th floor.
He was working in a server room when a plane struck the building.
"I was scared and terrified," Bacso said.
It was a slow process for him and others as they descended down a stairwell.
It was while he was on the stairs when a second plane struck the South Tower, he said.
It took about 45 minutes for him to reach the plaza level.
After exiting, he saw both towers on fire and debris on the ground for several blocks.
He walked to his hotel several blocks away and felt the shake of the two towers falling.
It took about an hour before he could contact his wife.
Once he reached her, the only words he could say were, "I'm alive, I'm OK." They both broke down after that, he said.
Bacso explained he initially didn't want to be cast as a survivor, but he couldn't let the memory of the thousands of victims "fade into oblivion."
Shortly after sharing his experience, Bacso helped unveil the first phase of Schererville's 9/11 memorial, which includes a beam from a World Trade Center tower.
"We must never forget that day that changed America," Schererville Police Chief David Dowling said.
Many speakers thanked police officers, firefighters and other first responders for their efforts in keeping the community safe.
"May you always know our gratitude when you see this memorial every day," said Doug Strayer, business manager of the Iron Workers Local 395.
The union was among many groups that provided free labor to help create the first phase of the town's memorial.