CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) --While masses of people gathered at Ground Zero Sunday, mourners also paid their respects at the California Memorial in Clovis.
Sunday marked 15 years since 9/11, but for most Americans, the cries for help and the loss of life are etched in their memory.
"You can't forget," said Jon Brothers, a retired Cal Fire Battalion Chief. "I remember where I was the day it happened."
The yearly tradition draws hundreds back year after year. Kari Smith was one of the many at Pelco who helped organize the first ceremony honoring fallen and surviving heroes.
"The minute I get here, it's like I was back to 2001," she said. "It's goose bumps and tears."
This year she brought her 12-year-old son. He may not have seen the ghastly images but the courage first responders showed that day is one reason he hopes to become one.
"That is was really sad," Brayden said. "And a lot of people got hurt."
The New York City Fire Department lost 343 firefighters that day Brothers said the pain transcends distance and the road to recovery is still tough for those who did survive.
"They are going to suffer medical problems I'll never see," he said.
Which is why on this anniversary and ones to come, these firefighters and families are taking those words to heart with their presence. It's proof that the country won't forget anytime soon.
"Those who really have a deep love for the country, who understand the significance of what happened on that day," Brothers said. "It's just something that you cannot forget."