I was going to write about 9/11 but I have decided to wait until I visit ‘Ground Zero’ later this year.. I do not believe I can do justice to such a poignant event in world history without having visited and experienced for myself first hand.. I particularly want to follow the “Cross at Ground Zero” so much has been said and written about the significance of this piece of steel.
What I do know is this. The shape was oddly identifiable in the blasted wreckage of the World Trade Center, standing upright amid beams bent like fork tines and jagged, pagan-seeming tridents. A grief-exhausted excavator named Frank Silecchia found it on Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the terrorist attacks. A few days later, he spoke to a Franciscan priest named Father Brian Jordan, who was blessing remains at Ground Zero. Fr Brian has been asked countless times, “Why did God do this?” His reply has always been the same.. He would say, it had nothing to do with God, but it was the actions of men abusing their free will.
The 10th anniversary has come and gone, but the memories will forever live on in all of us, one way or another affected by this destruction and innocent loss of nearly 3000 lives..
We all know where we were on that fateful day. It is etched forever in our memory. The symbolic ‘Cross” has become controversial in itself, with the American Atheists, a non profit group, who sued to remove it, calling it an unlawful and “repugnant”.
Like it or not, the steel and debris of the World Trade Center has become more than just wreckage. It has been alchemized into relics, not just by fire but also by memory and trauma. Larger spiritual meanings have been attributed to it.
The Latin term for relic (reliquiae) means “remains” or “something left behind.”
Somehow among 1.8 million tons of debris, this cross rose from the rubble and caught the eye of Father Brian Jordan. I don’t know the reason or have any answers.. Do any of us?
Ten years on… this I do know, much of the sacred steel recovered from Ground Zero has been held in Hangar 17 at John F. Kennedy Airport.
To this day, items are still being recovered.. A rack of bikes, a battered shovel, a dented filing cabinet bursting with papers.
To quote Nancy Johnson, who directs the World Trade Center Artifacts project and has overseen the preservation of the Ground Zero wreckage since 2006.
“Wreckage becomes relic when it is associated with people and experiences that brought you joy,”
You can take the cross out of the World Trade Centre. But can you take it out of someone’s skin?