NEW YORK – A cross-shaped steel beam that survived the 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attack to become a symbol of hope was moved Thursday from ground zero to a nearby church, accompanied by victims’ families, clergy and construction workers.
The 2-ton, 20-foot-high cross was placed on a flatbed truck for the three-block trip to its temporary home at St. Peter’s Church, which served as a temporary morgue for Sept. 11 victims and as a sanctuary for rescue workers searching for human remains.
“This piece of steel meant more to many people than any piece of steel ever,” said Richard Sheirer, head of the city Office of Emergency Management five years ago.
Ironworkers sang “God Bless America” as hundreds of people walked behind the cross to the 18th-century church.
The Rev. Brian Jordan, a Franciscan priest who led the procession, had blessed the T-beam days after it was pulled from the wreckage and led efforts to preserve it. He called the cross “a sign of consolation and inspiration to workers who served at ground zero for the 10 months of recovery.”
Construction worker Frank Silecchia discovered the T-beam in the ruins of 6 World Trade Center on Sept. 13, 2001.
Workers excavated the beam and installed it at the site. In 2002 the cross was moved to Church and Cortland streets, where it had remained until Thursday.
Land where the cross had stood is being excavated to make way for three office towers and a Sept. 11 museum. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the site’s owner, had planned months ago to store the cross, but family members and ministers objected.
The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation has said it plans to include the cross as part of its memorial or inside the museum.