HALIFAX -- Julia Stewart was working in tourism 20 years ago.

On Sept. 11, 2001, she was taking a group of Americans on a tour of the Maritimes.

She'll never forget telling them about the terror unfolding in their country.

"I remember distinctly, one woman sobbing because she has family members who worked in the towers," Stewart explains.

For many, time stood still the moment they heard the news.

Some educators were teaching classrooms filled with young children when they learned about what was happening in the United States.

"You have the students speak to you, tell them about their concerns," former principal Earl Muise remembers how he handled the situation that day. "What is important to them, and how you can reassure them that they are safe."

"We put the TV in the library so that we could go check while eating lunch," adds former teacher Yvette d'Entremont. "But I'll never forget that day."

Maritimers, who were in school at the time, say they tried to make sense of what was taking place.

"I was in Grade 11, I was 17 years old," reflects Bassam Mothana of Bedford, N.S. "I had a friend that rushed over and told us that a plane had hit a building in New York City, half of the class went down to the cafeteria to watch the event unfold. That's what happened, and my biggest concern and worry was that it was a terrorist attack, and unfortunately, it was."

Others were going about their day – running errands or at work.

"The bank teller told me, had explained to me, that there was a terrorist attack at the world trade buildings in New York," explains April Ramsay who was doing some banking in Halifax that day. "I just remember feeling overwhelmed."

"I was building an apartment building in Bridgewater," explains Robert Richardson. "I remember we took, it was almost dinner time, and we decided to stop a bit early, and we always had the radio running, and it was on the radio about these attacks in the states. We sat around the radio for probably two hours and listened."

Mothers, like Joanne Ozon, tried to comfort their children.

"I remember my three year old son saying Mommy, what happened to the plane? And that's when I instantly became fearful, saying that this is not the world that I hope my kids will grow up in, and I remember crying out to God because people's lives were being shattered."

As people gather to make the 20th anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday, Julia Stewart says she will reflect quietly.

"I won't watch the footage again of that day," the former tour guide says. "I don't need to. It's engraved in my brain. But I'll reach out to other tour guides I was working with at that time and say, hey, I'm thinking about ya."

A global historic tragedy, that's still fresh on the minds of many Maritimers two decades later.