A day of peace and reflection

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Red, white and blue couldn’t have shined any brighter.

 

Dozens turned out on a sunny Belen afternoon to a memorial ceremony at the 9/11 park on Main Street that reminded young and old of the sacrifices that others make each day to keep this country safe.

A decade ago, we were a nation stunned after we saw images of planes hitting the Twin Towers, a picture that was almost unreal.

Today, residents want to make sure those images don’t fade.

“My goal on 9/11 is to not let people forget,” said Archie Koenemund, a first-responder to the World Trade Center in 2001.

Koenemund, a Bosque Farms resident, is a former deputy chief fire inspector for the New York Fire Department and said he remembers attending some of the memorials for the nearly 3,000 people who died on that day.

“They had memorials because there were no bodies,” Koenemund said.

Koenemund was at the heart of a country united in 2001.

That unity hasn’t weakened after 10 years, and people from across the state and the nation collectively came together on Sunday for a day of peace and remembrance.

An American flag swaying over Sunday’s proceedings and an eagle sculpture at the 9/11 park were reminders of patriotism and strength ― symbols that Americans don’t give up.

Some think the 2001 tragedy can be used as motivation for making this country a better place to live.

“This is not about shared grief,” said State Sen. Michael Sanchez. “It’s about a shared belief that working together will help keep America as the greatest nation on Earth.”

Sunday’s memorial included the releasing of white doves and the unveiling of two panels listing the names of 9/11 victims on a 10,000 pound limestone slab at the park.

The ceremony also honored Sgt. Garrett Misener and Pvt. Charles High, who were both killed in action in 2010. Their names were imprinted on bricks that will be installed on the freedom wall along with the names of others who have lost their lives in combat.

The park, located at Church and Main streets in Belen, has an 8-foot replica of the Twin Towers, a steel-sculptured eagle, a piece of steel beam from the World Trade Center and a shovel used by the first organized rescue recovery group that entered the Pentagon after the attack.

For Chris VanWinkle of the New Mexico Army National Guard, the ceremony was surreal.

VanWinkle has been part of the 515th Army National Guard for about eight years and said he appreciates the community coming out for the ceremony.

He said 9/11 ceremonies will help keep the important day in history alive.

“It means a lot,” VanWinkle said. “It makes me feel proud to be an American to see all the people out here.”

Others were too young to remember that day that changed America forever. Still, children cheerfully waved flags as if the ceremony meant just as much to them as it did to their parents.

Sanchez said it’s up to adults to ensure that current and future generations understand the importance of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“It’s up to us,” he said.

 


Contact Brent Ruffner