NEW YORK — For Christians, the cross has always been a symbol of hope, but the cross found under the rubble of debris of the World Trade Center is also a symbol of perseverance, especially for those who spent long days searching round-the-clock for signs of life after the towers collapsed on Sept. 11.
Recently, this icon of hope has also been a symbol of controversy, because the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the site’s owner, had planned months ago to store the cross in a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, but family members and ministers objected.
Among those opposed to the cross being moved was Brian Jordan, who with Edward Malloy, the president of the Greater N.Y. Building & Construction Trades Council, reached an agreement with representatives of the Port Authority to transfer the cross temporarily to the exterior of nearby St. Peter’s Church.
Last week, early on the morning of Oct. 5, workers dismantled the two-ton, 20-foot-high cross from its original site, placed it on 18-wheeler flat bed truck, and moved it to its new temporary home. That afternoon, under bright sunny skies, Brian led the procession in the same way he had led the effort to preserve the T-beam found by construction worker Frank Silecchia on Sept. 13, 2001.
“The cross is a symbol of God’s presence in the midst of this tragedy,” Brian told the construction worker when it was found.
Five years later, Brian and some of the original construction workers accompanied the cross on this short but significant trip.
“Let the cross be the only symbol displayed today during this march,” said Brian. “This time the cross speaks for many other symbols. Put aside your differences and let us walk with reverence as a sign of unity.”
Once the cross reached its final destination at St. Peter’s Church, a crane lifted the heavy steel beam, and two construction workers secured it to the base that had been prepared ahead of time. Fr. Kevin Madigan, pastor of St. Peter’s, was the first to sprinkle holy water on the cross. Brian thanked all those who in one way or another had contributed to this relocation and asked them to put aside all misunderstandings. “God bess us all, and God bless America,” Brian concluded. Retired sanitation worker Andrew Macchio led the crowd in singing “God Bless America.”
The cross is expected to remain outside St. Peter’s Church for at least four years, the estimated time required to finish the new freedom tower at the site of the World Trade Center.
Local media in the New York area reported on the cross transfer.