JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Two beautiful columns of light appeared just after sundown, rising from Lower Manhattan and mirroring the shapes of the Twin Towers — a vivid sight for so many across the river in Jersey City.

The lights reach miles into the sky, reminding all of us on the ground of emotions that linger, 20 years later.

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“You know, 20 years later, you go on with your life, right? You live your life. But then, in this moment, you can’t help but think back to that day,” Lisa Bruckenstein told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.

“You remember that day, and just seeing all the pictures of everybody going, ‘Have you seen this person?’ And it just broke your heart,” another woman said.

Some came to reflect and remember close friends and loved ones who perished.

“We got into the city by ferry, and we had seen that the top of the building was on fire,” Middletown resident Jennifer Fontana said.

Fontana and Jacqueline Lobello worked at Cantor Fitzgerald in the North Tower. They were going to work later than usual on Sept. 11, 2001. It saved their lives.

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“And I see the people who’ve perished and they were so young. And as we’re getting older, so grateful to still be here, and of course, feel guilty that they’re not,” Fontana said.

“We lost a lot of friends. Her best friend, Monica Goldstein, we lost her. So we’re here to pay our respect to all our friends and our co-workers, and everybody else, all the innocent lives that were taken that day. And we’re lucky that we’re still here,” Lobello said.

On the eve of the 20th anniversary, the fleet of heroes who carried out the largest water evacuation in history was honored.

Water cannons were used to pay tribute to the mariners who answered the call, rescuing more than 500,000 people who were trapped in Lower Manhattan, taking them safely across the harbor.

Meanwhile, the Tribute in Light will be lit again Saturday after sunset, piercing the sky until darkness turns to dawn.

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CBS2’s Nick Caloway contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team