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.READ MORE: Violent Crash In NW Miami-Dade, One Person Killed
“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.READ MORE: Police Believe Fiancé Of Missing SW Florida Woman Gabby Petito Is Withholding Critical Information
“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.”MORE NEWS: Florida Sheriff's Deputies Cleared In Shootout With Two Children
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.