NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Thousands of people flocked to Ground Zero Thursday to honor those who died and to catch a glimpse of President Barack Obama.

Among them was one family from New Jersey, who wanted to make sure their nieces never forgot what happened on September 11, 2001.

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The Stallings family made the trip from Roselle, New Jersey. They started at St. Peter’s Church with prayers for the thousands who died on 9/11 and eventually worked their way through the crowds to get as close as they could to Ground Zero.

Gayle Stallings pulled her nieces out of school for a first-hand lesson in contemporary history.

“They could’ve been sitting in a class today going over Christopher Columbus and so forth and so on, but this is the history that will dictate their life,” Stallings told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.

Jaylaah, 10, showed Hsu pictures she had taken of the trip and why she felt the need to be in lower Manhattan on such a momentous day.

“It’s important for me to be here today because it shows me to have respect for each other,” she said.

After plenty of waiting, they finally saw the motorcade pass them by and saw President Obama waving to the crowd. With excitement and shouts of “oh my God, I saw him,” the Stallings had a memory that would last a lifetime.

“It almost was as though he was looking right at us, when he waved,” Tyrone Stallings said.

“This is a day for America because everybody’s happy, look around,” Gayle Stallings said. “Nobody has money like we used to, gas is sky high, food is sky high but everybody is happy because we know it’s going get better.”

The family says they’ll be back at Ground Zero on September 11th to continue teaching their kids how tragedy can turn into healing.

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