Alpine Border Patrol Station remembers 9/11

ALPINE — At a ceremony at the U.S. Border Patrol Alpine Station on Tuesday morning, law enforcement agents from around the region came together to commemorate the 18th anniversary of 9/11.

Cars lined the entrance to the Alpine Border Patrol facility as area law-enforcement officials gathered with locals to mourn.

Around 100 people attended, including members of the Texas National Guard. Kevin Zimdars, a pastor at the North Temple Baptist Church and a retired Border Patrol chaplain, gave the invocation and benediction. A bagpipe player was flown in from New York.

The Alpine station was having a groundbreaking on September 11, 2001 — forging an emotional connection between Border Patrol and the 9/11 victims.

That 2001 groundbreaking ceremony was halted as news came in of the terror attack, and agents were put on “full alert,” according to an FBI bulletin about the memorial.

In 2011, around the 10th anniversary of the terror attack, Border Patrol agents traveled to New York City in a Border Patrol flatbed truck to collect a piece from the old World Trade Center building.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey released a corner segment of the former World Trade Center — named “Charlie 101” — after Border Patrol officials submitted paperwork showing the nexus between their groundbreaking ceremony and the tragedy.

The twisted steel piece weighs 1,300 pounds and is eight by six feet in dimensions. The memorial took about 10 months to plan, design and build. Volunteers — including then-current and retired Border Patrol employees — helped build the memorial, using their own time and money.

A plaque on the memorial recognizes the tragic coincidence of timing.

“How tragically ironic that a building dedicated to the safety and security of the United States should begin construction at the exact moment that other buildings, some 2000 miles away, would be destroyed by those enemies of this country who would see us all perish,” the plaque reads.

Roberto Dominguez, the patrol agent in charge of the Alpine Station, said the memorial was a reminder of the maxim that people should “never forget” about 9/11. It was also a reminder, he said, of “why we put on our uniform.”

The memorial is open to the public during day hours seven days a week and is located at the Border Patrol station in Alpine along U.S. Route 90.

In an emailed statement to The Big Bend Sentinel, Stephen Crump, Border Patrol division chief for Big Bend Sector, said the Charlie-101 was a “constant reminder of the important work being done by CBP employees to protect our homeland.”

“On this site in Alpine, TX, this memorial was erected and dedicated on September 11, 2011 on the ten-year anniversary to honor those who died in the horrendous attacks on this great nation,” the statement noted. “This twisted piece of steel from one of the twin towers bore witness to the horrible events of that day and the bravery and heroism of those first responders who died while doing their duty.”