CLOVIS, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Nearly 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001.

On Monday, 22 years later, the California 9/11 Memorial in Clovis honored those who lost their lives. 

“The purpose is to make sure people never forget, and also educate them on the first responders in our community,” said Julie Debenedetto, who is the Vice Chair of the California 9/11 Memorial organization.

The California 9/11 Memorial is a permanent monument built by Pelco and CEO David McDonald, to honor and remember the 2,996 people lost in the terrorist attack. 

“It’s just very comforting, it’s serene, it’s a good place just to think about not only 9/11 but their own personal lives. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful,” said Debenedetto.

On Monday, a special memorial open to the public featuring military, police, first responders, bagpipers, and marines was held starting at 8:46 a.m. the time when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. 

On September 11, 2001, William Jimeno was a rookie police officer who has since retired with the Port Authority police of New York and New Jersey.

On 9/11 he was one of the first people to run into the North Tower after it was hit. 

“We had both buildings fall on us, we were underneath about 30 feet down in the middle of the World Trade Center,” said Jimeno. 

Jimeno would remain trapped for the next 13 hours.

“Many hours of suffering, pain, and survival,” said Jimeno.

Eventually, he was rescued by two marines and a civilian who broke the line to try to find survivors. 

“To me, it’s a testament of the human spirit, what a person can go through, what a country can go through, and we are very fortunate to be here,” said Jimeno.

This is his first year spending 9/11 away from home, but he says being in Clovis felt like he was back home with family. 

“To see everyone here in the Clovis area, their dedication and commitment to never forgetting with this beautiful memorial and all of the men and women in uniform here and all of the civilians that come out, that gives me hope for our future and hope for our country,” said Jimeno.