By Team

NEW YORK (CBSMiami) — As the nation marks 20 years since September 11th, those with a connection to the day are experiencing a flood of memories and emotions about the terror attacks that took nearly 3,000 lives.

Ann Van Hine’s husband was a New York City firefighter, one of the 343 FDNY responders who died in the attack on the World Trade Center.

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“One of the things I miss the most is just laying in bed with my head on his shoulder, just talking away,” she said.

For Bruce Van Hine, being a firefighter was a childhood dream.

“Squad 41 lost everyone on duty that day. They lost all 6 firefighters. They went into building two and got pretty high up, started to bring civilians down, and then they were killed in the collapse,” Van Hine said.

“The last time I saw Bruce was Sunday, September 9th,” Van Hine said. “He said, ‘I’m blessed,’ and I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘because I’m married to Miss Ann.'”

Now, the grandmother of three volunteers at the 9/11 Tribute Museum, giving more than 500 tours where Bruce died a hero. But the one day she never visits the site is the September 11th anniversary.

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“I don’t know that I can take on the collective grief of 3,000 people,” she explained.

20 years ago, Joan Mastropaolo lived just a block west of the towers. She watched the attacks from her office window.

“I saw both towers get struck by the planes. I was never able to make it back home,” she said.

As a volunteer for the 9/11 Tribute Museum, she shares stories of both the horrors and humanity of the day.

“We had over 500,000 people come here after 9/11 with only one objective: They wanted to help.”

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That support from both loved ones and strangers has helped Van Hine carry on as she honors her husband’s memory and makes sure we never forget. Team