SAN ANTONIO -

San Antonio City leaders joined students and staff at the New Life Christian Center Campus' 9/11 memorial on the 11th anniversary of the tragedy to pay respect to the fallen.

A wreath-laying ceremony and 21-gun salute honored the victims of 9/11.

Several of the attendees said they lost friends or loved ones during the attacks.

San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said he lost a good friend named Raymond Downing, a special operations chief for the New York Fire Department.

Hood said he met Downing after the Oklahoma City bombing. He said at that time, they thought it was the worst tragedy they'd ever see in their lifetimes.

On Tuesday, Hood said his heart goes out to all those affected

"We need to continue to remember those families who are grieving and will continue to grieve for the rest of their lives," he said.

Miriam Payne visited the memorial to pay respect to her sister, who was on the 105th floor of Tower 1 when the attacks happened. 

As she laid flowers on the memorial, the tears flowed.

"You think it gets easier, but not on September 11th," she said.

Some special guests at the event included Mayor Julian Castro, Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz and Major Gen. Chuck Caroll.

Along with paying respects to the victims, they remembered the heroes who sacrificed their own lives to save others.

"Those firefighters responded without hesitation up those floors into that building to rescue people. The same thing that they would respond to, the same attitude, if it was a house fire," said Hood. "They responded knowing the risk knowing they could be injured or potentially die in this event."

Following the ceremony, the San Antonio 9/11 Educational Initiative held a session on cyber-security and 9/11-related topics at the sanctuary. It was open to the public.