By Juli McDonald

BOSTON (CBS) – We promise to remember, but what was taken September 11 nearly 20 years ago – was too great, too painful to ever forget.

“It kind of gives you goosebumps to see it,” one woman said.

On Wednesday, 2,997 American flags were planted in Boston’s Public Garden. Each represents someone who was loved and lost.

A woman reflects at a memorial for 9/11 victims in the Boston Public Garden (WBZ-TV)

A team from Project 351 placed each of the nearly 3,000 flags. They encourage everyone who stops in reflection, to commit to acts of kindness and service honoring the lives stolen on September 11.

“My brother’s wife was on Flight 11. She had gone back to work after having her little baby Riley and was on a business trip,” said Carolyn Casey with Project 351.

As sunshine poured through the sea of red, white and blue, so did memories for all who passed by.

2,997 flags planted in Boston Public Garden to honor 9/11 victims (WBZ-TV)

“It’s like etched in stone. You just stopped and looked at a TV and couldn’t believe what was really happening. What is this? Why?” recalled neighbor Melissa Wiemer.

“The first one could’ve been an accident. The second one everybody knew how horrible it was,” said Bruce McGee of Long Beach.

And for those born since 9/11, there may not be memories – but there is such reverence.

“We’re still in the midst of the pandemic. Everybody has been experiencing this general trauma. To see people come together to mourn and be together, to feel feelings. It’s beautiful. We all share this pain together,” said 19-year-old Conall Sahler.

As the garden was created, 206 names were read aloud – those with Massachusetts ties. The display will be up through the weekend.

Juli McDonald