The 9/11 Cross

As the horror and a lingering disbelief over the events of September 11, 2001 settled on the nation the day following the terrorist attack, a retired firefighter, Frank Silecchia, struggled through the wreckage at ground zero looking for survivors. The unimaginable devastation made it increasingly clear none would be found, and the pervasive gloom deepened with each hour. 

Then the courageous volunteer stumbled on a scene forever etched in his mind. In a small clearing in the debris, a ray of sunlight penetrated the dust and struck an upright iron beam with a cross-bar: it was a sheared steel beam shaped like a cross. 

His photograph of the of the scene appeared in New York newspapers in the days to follow, and a solemn sense of reverence and hope came to many who saw it. Many saw the crossed metal as a Christian cross and felt its survival was symbolic—a symbol of faith, hope, and healing. One minister at the site says that when a family of a man who died in the attacks came to the cross shrine and left personal effects there, “It was as if the cross took in the grief and loss. I never felt Jesus more.” 

The cross was eventually moved to St. Peter’s on October 5, 2006, and sat on the Church Street side of the building, between Barclay and Vesey Streets bearing a plaque which reads, “The Cross at Ground Zero – Founded September 13, 2001; Blessed October 4, 2001; Temporarily Relocated October 15, 2006. Will return to WTC Museum, a sign of comfort for all.” On July 23, 2011, the cross was moved back to Ground Zero and lowered into the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.   

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As we approach the tenth anniversary of that horrific day, how does the cross of Christ and the Christ of the cross bring you healing hope?

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