At 8:20 a.m. when the service began, fewer than 50 people were seated at the 9/11 memorial at the foot of Grand Street in Jersey City this morning, the forever-changed New York skyline directly across the Hudson River, according to a report posted by The Jersey Journal on nj.com.
But by 8:46 a.m., when the first moment of silence was observed to mark the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center 12 years ago, the number of attendees had swelled into the hundreds.
Passersby stopped to bow their heads alongside the family members, elected officials and others who paused to reflect on this 12th anniversary of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.
"People were all affected in different ways," Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said. "No one better, no one worse."
A Jersey City woman who was in lower Manhattan on that crisp, clear fall day remembered the ground shaking and the sounds in the air.
"All of it is a blur," she said. "I don't think I even paused to process what had happened when I heard, I just ran to a ferry."
Many moving and emotional songs were performed as the service went on, and poems were read aloud that spoke of the tragedy that befell the country and also of the unity that the country experienced following those events.
As a backdrop to the moving memorial, a piece of twisted steel, believed to be from the 45th to 48th floors of the World Trade Center, rested.
"America was twisted and mangled," Gary Nye, co-chairman of the 9/11 Committee of Jersey City said. "But like this piece of steel, we remain strong."
One passing 20-year-old said she was only 7 on 9/11 and watched on television from her home in Hoboken.
"It was so scary, I just remember running around the living room screaming because I had family members there," she said. "But seeing the amazing unity and support that is displayed here today, I feel comfort knowing that those lost are being honored."