Cross Brings Spiritual Lift To Workers

The cross at Ground Zero was not simply the cross beams remaining from an existing building. It was formed out of beams from Building One plunging, splitting and crashing into Building Six. "There's no symmetry to anything down there," the FBI chaplain said, "except those crosses."

              By Mae M. Cheng
                   STAFF WRITER

                   October 5, 2001

                   Bill Graham, a firefighter with Ladder 169 in Brooklyn,
                   is not sure what to make of the two cast iron beams
                   that form the shape of a cross found at Ground Zero.

                   "I have a long way to go to heal," said Graham, who
                   yesterday witnessed the blessing of the iron beams, a
                   ceremony that officially made them a crucifix. "We lost
                   many of our brothers."

                   While Graham could not find his own personal solace
                   in the cross, he hoped others would. "It reinforces their
                   faith in God that God's here for them," Graham said.

                   The cross, about 15 feet tall, was found in the shell of 6
                   World Trade Center. According to the Rev. Brian
                   Jordan, a Franciscan priest who blessed the cross, the
                   girders were part of debris from one of the collapsed
                   towers that crashed through the roof of 6 World Trade
                   Center and stood upright in a sea of rubble. Insulation
                   from the building hangs on one arm of the cross.

                   "We've been suffering for three weeks now," Jordan
                   said. "We want healing...not only for the city of New
                   York but for America."

                   The cross was removed Wednesday night from 6 World
                   Trade Center by ironworkers. It was hoisted atop a
                   concrete slab, a remnant from a collapsed walk bridge
                   between the World Trade Center complex and the
                   World Financial Center. Overnight, rescuers wrote
                   messages on the cross for those who died or have
                   been working at Ground Zero.

                   "God bless our fallen brothers," someone wrote.

                   During yesterday's ceremony, work at Ground Zero
                   came to a halt as rescuers joined hands, prayed and
                   sang "God Bless America" before going into a chant of
                   "U.S.A., U.S.A."

                   The cross will remain on the concrete slab on West Street for the next few
                   months until a permanent home for it as an outdoor memorial is found, Jordan

                   "It's very difficult to work down here," said Sgt. Brian Wall, a police officer with
                   Emergency Service Unit 3. "I hope it's [the cross] going to lift their spirits," he
                   said of the rescuers.

Cross found in debris gives workers solace

Friday, October 5, 2001

The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- A cast-iron "cross" found in the rubble of the World Trade Center was blessed on Thursday as rescue workers who have adopted it as a symbol of faith took a midday break and gathered around to watch on Thursday.

The 20-foot-tall cross consists of two metal beams. It fell from Tower One into nearby Building Six intact on Sept. 11. Laborer Frank Silecchia, whose job is to turn off earth-moving machines when he spots bodies in the debris, said he found the cross standing almost completely upright two days after the Twin Towers toppled.

"Some people will say it's velocity or physics that put it there." Silecchia said. "To me it's an act of God."

Silecchia, 47, said he stood there in tears for about 20 minutes after finding it. Since then, rescue workers have made pilgrimages at the site to pray or meditate near it. Some etched messages on it.

"God Bless Our Fallen Brothers." read one tribute.

On Wednesday, workers hoisted the cross atop a 40-foot-high foundation left from what used to be a pedestrian walkway over West Street. Hundreds of construction workers, firefighters, and police officers stood quietly or perched on top of nearby trailers watching.

The Rev. Brian Jordan, a Franciscan priest toting a bullhorn, blessed the cross with holy water.

"Behold the glory of the cross at ground zero," Jordan said. "This is our symbol of hope, our symbol of faith, our symbol of healing."

The workers prayed and sang "God Bless America" together before returning to work.

John Sociliato, who moved the cross Wednesday with his Bobcat, said the experience left him "with a lump in my throat."

"This should be in the memorial because it is a miracle."