Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Cross at Ground Zero

You may have seen this image of a metal cross at Ground Zero. It was dug out of the mountains of debris that collapsed from the Twin Towers. It was saved a few days after the tragedy and the picture of a Franciscan monk blessing it became well-known around the world.
The World Trade Center was built using prefabricated parts which were bolted or welded together at the site. This process dramatically reduced construction time and costs. Using this process, t-beams and other types of cross beams were created and used in each of the World Trade Center buildings. When the Twin Towers collapsed, it sent debris down onto Six World Trade Center, and gutted the interior of that building; the intact cross beam later found in 6 World Trade Center's debris is believed to have come from the North Tower.
Following the terrorist attacks, a massive operation was launched to clear the site and attempt to find any survivors among the rubble. On September 13, 2001, a worker at the site named Frank Silecchia discovered a 20-foot cross of two steel beams among the debris. Those with access to the site used the cross as a shrine of sorts, leaving messages on it or praying before it. After a few weeks within the cleanup site the cross was an impediment to nearby work, so it was moved by crane on October 3 and installed on October 4, where it continued as a shrine and tourist attraction. The cross has remained during reconstruction, and Father Brian Jordan OFM, a Roman Catholic Franciscan priest, has been trying to preserve the cross since April 2006, and it was eventually moved to St. Peter's on October 5, 2006. On July 23, 2011, the cross was blessed by Fr. Jordan during a short ceremony before being loaded on a flatbed truck, moved back to Ground Zero and lowered into the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

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