NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In Lower Manhattan, the pools built where the towers once stood provide a poignant reminder of the somber occasion: 20 years since the September 11th attacks.

Friday afternoon, there was a clear blue sky overhead, much like that fateful day 20 years ago.

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Visitors gathered all day at the site, paying respects and memorializing those we lost.

On 9/11, St. Nicholas Church was destroyed when the towers came down. It’s taken 20 years to rebuild it. Just Friday, the cross was placed on top.

As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reports, there were mournful sounds in a sacred place, the 9/11 Memorial Plaza, where, after 20 years of anguish and suffering, they still come – those who loved and lost – to carry out their ritual of remembrance.

“When you stand here, what do you feel?” Brennan asked.

“I’m just so hurt,” said June Bing of Easton, Pennsylvania.

Her daughter lost her boyfriend on that day.

Complete Coverage9/11 Twenty Years Later

“Just to rub my hands over all the names, not just who we were here for. I stopped and questioned different people if it was a relative, and they would explain who they lost. And that’s the first time I ever did that,” Bing said.

It’s a place to honor those who made the great sacrifice. First responders who now stand in the pantheon of heroes of American History, who led the way in our darkest hour. Beacons of light and bravery in a day of unimagined darkness.

“They sacrificed for people they didn’t even know,” said Illinois firefighter Jason Bland. “A brotherhood… that’s why we do it.”

To some young people, 9/11 is a memory of being a child, and trying to understand.

“I was in sixth grade. I was just as shocked as everyone was,” one person said.

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“It’s very sad, and it’s, the effects are endless,” firefighter Eric Dini said.

Dini brought his 10-year-old son, Leo, for a lesson.

“Just remembering and learning. It’s an important part of history, so I’m glad he’s interested,” Dini said.

The memorial plaza was closed Friday night, and Karen D’Ambrosi couldn’t place flowers on the name of her husband, Jack, but she felt she had to be there nonetheless.

“For some reason, it’s much more emotional this year,” she said. “It’s hard, you know. It all comes up.”

D’Ambrosi says it’s been 20 years, but she’s managed to move forward.

“You go forward because you have a lot of support, because you have two children you have to raise and they need to keep their lives as normal as possible,” she said.

At the firefighter mural where FDNY members gathered Friday night, Christina Evans carried a picture of her son Chris, saying she manages to keep his memory all around her.

“I have his picture all over my home, and he’s always smiling so when I want to look at him he’s all over the place,” she said.

Saturday, they will read the names, take six moments of silence and mark two decades of anguish. But also carry forward a great pride of what so many did that day.

Chip Schultz, a Marine Corps veteran, carries his patriotism on his shoulder.

“I’m proud to be an American,” he said, getting emotional. “I will be ’til the day I die. And I’ll never forget what happened to this country 20 years ago.”

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Dick Brennan