Friday evening began with prayer and songs, candles and reflection to remember 20 years ago.
The community came together at Our Lady of Good Voyage in Boston's Seaport District for a service that then led to a procession to the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Memorial to honor the victims of 9/11.
"The most evil, cowardly attack of terrorism on our great nation," said Gold Star mom Mary Ellen Callahan. "Changed our country forever."
More on the 20th anniversary of 9/11
The names of the more than 300 Massachusetts service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice since 9/11 were read one by one.
"He's with me every single day," said Margaret Rosher, whose son, Jacob, enlisted in the Navy because of 9/11.
"This doesn't come off," she said about her son's dog tags that she wears around her neck.
So did Lori Ann Strachan's son, Andrew, also enlisted after the attacks.
"He wanted to join because of 9/11, absolutely," said Strachan. "He was right on board, but he was still in high school, so he had to wait."
Both of their sons were killed in separate military training missions.
"It brings back a lot of the feelings," said Rosher about the Friday night vigil. "Not the sad feelings, but the pride I had in my son, and still have in my son."
As difficult as it is, they wanted to be a part of the ceremony on the eve of 9/11 — the day that would change their sons' futures.
"I wanted to be here to honor the people that were in the towers, people in the airplanes, and those that came after," said Strachan.