By Wakisha Bailey

CAMDEN COUNTY, N.J. (CBS) — Inside Veterans Island on Cooper River Park sits a grim reminder of a national tragedy, 20 years ago Saturday. The Camden County community gathered Friday night at a memorial that honors the thousands of lives lost.

In bold on the memorial, the names of 29 local residents who died on September 11, 2001.

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CBS3 spoke to multiple residents at the vigil, with some not even alive when the terrorist attack happened. Eight-year-old Sam visited Friday night in honor of his grandfather, Gene Dannenfelser, a chief fire marshal who responded to Ground Zero following the attack.

“I know some bad people had some good people in a plane and crashed it,” Sam told Eyewitness News.

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Some have a more complex relationship to the day. The family of First Lieutenant Jason Mann told CBS3 he enlisted in the Marines after 9/11. He died in Afghanistan in 2008.

The grandchildren of Dannenfelser say he was the most important history teacher. The family shared clips of him teaching with CBS3; it shows Dannenfelser at the dinner table with his grandchildren, talking about how he and his team responded. His helmet is on the table next to him.

He died in 2017 from lung cancer, but not before passing the knowledge and his memory of the horrific day.

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“He was a real hero,” his granddaughter said. “He gave everything to us.”

Wakisha Bailey