Friday, September 22, 2006

Signs Of Hope

I received an email earlier this week about the "Ground Zero Cross," and it will soon be moved. On October 5th there will be a procession leading it to its new temporary home, at St. Peter's Church just a few blocks away. The cross will eventually be part of the WTC memorial, when it is completed hopefully in 2009.


On Thursday afternoon, Oct. 5th at 2 p.m. in the afternoon, there will be a procession to transfer the Ground Zero Cross (also known as the Last Artifact) from its present site in the WTC near the corner of Church and Cortlandt Sts. to three blocks north on the exterior of St. Peter's Church which is located on Church and Barclay Sts. This Last Artifact is actually a t-beam which was erected with numerous other t-beams during the construction of the original Twin Towers during the late 60's and early 70's. On Sept. 13, 2001, a construction worker named Frank Silecchia, discovered this cross-like beam amid the ruins of WTC 6 during the rescue and recovery program. Frank along with many other rescue and recovery workers interpreted this beam as a Cross and a sign of God's presence at Ground Zero.

This beam is 20 feet tall and weighs a couple of tons. Father Brian Jordan contacted then First Deputy Mayor Joseph Lhota (with the permission of then Mayor Giuliani) to arrange to have the beam erected on a concrete slab on West and Vesey Sts. The Cross-like beam was blessed by Father Jordan on Oct. 4, 2001. This Crosslike structure has provided consolation for many family members and friends of the victims of 9/11 and also to the recovery workers such as the construction workers; FDNY; PAPD; NYPD; other government agencies; volunteers and those who pay their respect at Ground Zero on a daily basis.

Due to plans to build in the present area of the Cross-like structure, an agreement was made between the Port Authority of NY/NJ, Father Jordan, Fr. Kevin Madigan, pastor of St. Peter's Church and Edward J. Malloy, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of NYS to temporarily transfer the Cross-like structure to the exterior of St. Peter's until the newconstruction on the WTC is completed. It is estimated that will take about 4 years. Then the cross beams will return to an external place on the WTC site. Whether the public sees this as a Last Artifact or share in the interpretation that this is a Cross, all are welcome to join in the procession which will begin at 2 p.m. and last for about an hour or so where the Cross-like structure will be rededicated by Fathers Madigan and Jordan.

For more information, please call Father Brian Jordan at 212-736-8500
or Edward J. Malloy at 212-647-0700

There was also some good news for those families who lost a loved one who was never identified. The office of the New York City's Chief Medical Examiner has re-opened testing of the DNA of bones that weren't previously identified. New techniques have enabled the CME to resume testing after it was originally stopped 18 months ago. They have given no assurances that there will be further identifications, but they have said they will go on as long as it is possible.

I only pray that more of the 1,161 poor souls lost on September 11, 2001 will be identified, and give their loved ones some peace. The OCME and his staff did an absolutely superb job identifying hundreds of people in the first 3 1/2 years after the attacks, and I know they will go above and beyond the call once again.

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