IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- As Americans all across the country take time to honor the lives of those lost during 9/11, the law enforcement community in Southern California is highlighting the acts of heroism, courage and compassion on what's known as the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.
Firefighters and community members gathered at the Orange County Fire Authority training facility in Irvine Sunday to remember the nearly 3,000 people who died that day.
"In the midst of the chaos at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and on a plane over Pennsylvania, everything we teach and learn in our academies rose up," said OCFA Chief Brian Fennessy during his speech.
Fennessy recalled those who took action that day and led people to safety.
"Battalion Chief Oreo Palmer freed a group of civilians who were trapped in an elevator just 60 seconds before the North Tower collapsed, killing he and his crew," said Fennessy.
The annual remembrance ceremony not only honors the victims of the attack, but it also pays tribute to the rescue and recovery effort. It's also a day captured in the memories of those old enough to remember 9/11.
Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley had family in New York at the time and recalls that frightening day.
"We were really worried about them and couldn't get a hold of them," she said. "It was very frightening for several hours."
Sunday's tribute also played a significant role in passing the stories of the tragedy and acts of heroism to the next generation.
"It's critical that the younger generations are pressed upon how important that day was and how it changed our way of living," said OCFA Capt. Thanh Nguyen.
At the Pentagon, President Joe Biden vowed that the U.S. would continue working to root out terrorist plots and called on Americans to stand up for "the very democracy that guarantees the right to freedom that those terrorists on 9/11 sought to bury in the burning fire, smoke and ash."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.