The Los Angeles Fire Department held their annual ceremony around the World Trade Center Memorial, a towering piece of steel from the buildings that crumbled on Sept. 11.
In Hollywood, firefighters also held a ceremony, sounding a bell at 7 a.m. and 7:28 a.m. to signify when the south tower and north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
Of the nearly 3,000 who died in the terrorist attacks, hundreds were first responders, including 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York Police Department officers and 37 Port Authority officers.
"Those people that are armed only with compassion and trained only with a desire to help their fellow man that rush into those dangerous situations," said Los Angeles City Fire Chief Brian Cummings.
Many say honoring and remembering those lost will ensure they will live on forever.
In Orange County, Fullerton firefighter Scott Townley turned his home into a memorial for the Sept. 11 victims. The tribute included hundreds of crosses and thousands of flags for both the officials and civilians who died.
"I get reactions from smiles all the way to people sobbing in tears and walking up and hugging me," Townley said.
A firefighter for 26 years, Townley said it's the brotherhood that connects firefighters despite geographical boundaries. It's also what motivated him to spend a year building each cross and gathering every name for the memorial.
"I basically memorialized all the civilians that were lost on 9/11," he said as he walked over to a section of his yard. "The cross in the center has every single person's name that died on 9/11."
Townley's memorial sent a strong message to those who stopped to bear witness. He said he plans to keep his memorial site up until Wednesday.
For one Rancho Santa Margarita father, the anniversary of 9/11 is especially hard. Tom Frost lost his daughter, Lisa Frost, whose plane crashed into the south tower.
The memorial to Frost that sits next to a quiet lake in her hometown compels people who never knew her to pause. Some leave notes, others drop off flowers. All are gestures that make her father happy to know she's not forgotten. She would have turned 33 this December.
The grieving father spends 15 to 20 hours a month volunteering, something he says was important to his daughter.
"Lisa was huge into community service and that was her lifetime goal, to make the world a better place," he said.
In Beverly Hills, a 9/11 memorial stands, made from the twisted girders of the World Trade Center. Along with the names displayed of the victims is Charles "Chic" Burlingame, the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon.
There is some evidence of a fight in the cockpit between Burlingame and the hijackers. There has been speculation the hijackers were targeting the White House, not far from the Pentagon.
"He was battling to save that aircraft and his life and his passengers on that plane," said Burlingame's brother, Brad Burlingame.
Chic Burlingame was a Navy F-4 Phantom pilot for eight years and spent 17 years with American Airlines. He was an honors graduate from the Navy's TOPGUN fighter pilot school.
To the east in Los Angeles, religious leaders of many different faiths gathered at the Islamic Center of Southern California for a special prayer service. The interfaith service commemorated the anniversary of the terrorist attack.
Those who attended remembered and honored all of the victims. Local Muslim leaders also condemned such acts of terror in the U.S. and around the world.