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Church remembers and honors 9/11 with steel beams in chapel

<i>KOAT</i><br/>It's been almost 20 years since the 9/11 attacks in New York City. In New Mexico
It's been almost 20 years since the 9/11 attacks in New York City. In New Mexico

By Web Staff

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    ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (KOAT) — It’s been almost 20 years since the 9/11 attacks in New York City. In New Mexico, there are two beams that once held up the World Trade Center before that tragic day.

The Deacon at Sacred Heart Church, Robert Vigil said, “You can imagine how many of those beams crumbled twisted up if you look at how twisted they are. So the power of what took place that day.”

The steel beams were a gift from the former New York City mayor after a letter was sent telling the story of the old church bell.

The story goes that the church bell was lost for several years when the old church was knocked down and rebuilt.

Several years later when a man was digging in his backyard, he found the bell and took it to the Hispanic Cultural Center, that’s when they discovered the inscription “Sagrado Corazón.”

The bell was returned to the church and after several fundraising attempts to build a new bell tower, community leaders decided to write a letter to the New York City Mayor.

Vigil said, “We received a response from the mayor of that time and he said ‘That’s an incredible story… You will be the first church to receive two full size beams but you have to pick them up by Saturday.’ This was a Monday.”

Soon after, people all over the country and in the local community came together to help.

One truck driver volunteered to go all the way to ground zero for the beams.

“After driving for over 50 years he had never transported something like this. And he said that at every state line people were just gathered by the hundreds to greet him and escort him to each state border,” Vigil said.

The steel beams represent death but also the resurrection of the community.

“In the middle of a pocket of poverty. A small community like Barela’s with such a big tie to New York City. That’s why I call it a miracle,” Vigil said.

The thick steel beams with missing rivets and curved tears show a small part of the story of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I think that’s what people do when they come here and they touch this and go ‘Wow how can something like this just really touch my heart’ it’s symbolic of history,” Vigil said.

People from all over come to this chapel to remember those that lost their lives.

“People will just come and touch the beams and the emotions that I see take place. I get the chills just touching these beams just now,” Vigil said. “You got the names here which sometimes people just come and they just sit here and cry as they touch this wall. Then they kneel and pray.”

Vigil says 9/11 shows that people should be thankful for each day and thankful for all the people who protect us.

“Were all unique, were all different but were all the same. We all need the same things and we definitely need each other. So the best way is to build bridges even amongst tragedies,” Vigil said.

Sacred Heart Church will be ringing its bell at the exact time the two planes hit the towers on Saturday, the chapel will also be open to visitors throughout the day.

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