World Trade Center Cross - Cultural Response

Cultural Response

Some saw the crossed metal as a Christian cross and felt its survival was symbolic. Fr. Brian Jordan OFM, a Roman Catholic Franciscan priest, spoke over it and declared it to be a "symbol of hope... symbol of faith... symbol of 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."

A replica has been installed at the gravesite of Father Mychal Judge, a New York Fire Department chaplain who was killed in the collapse of WTC 1 on September 11. Other surviving crossbeams were salvaged from the rubble; one was given to a Far Rockaway, New York chapter of the Knights of Columbus in 2004. Another replica cross was fashioned by ironworkers from Trade Center steel and installed at Graymoor, the Upper West Side headquarters of the Society of the Atonement, a religious institute of Franciscan friars.

The nearby St. Paul's Chapel, which survived the destruction and was a refuge for survivors and site laborers, sells various replicas of the cross including lapel pins and rosaries. The cross even inspired laborers on "The Pile" to get tattoos.

In addition, a documentary film titled The Cross and The Towers, which was released in 2006, tells the story of the 9/11 World Trade Center Cross. It has won a "number of awards, including the Audience Choice Award at Palm Beach International Festival, Best Film at Gloria Film Festival, Crystal Heart at Heartland Film Festival and finalist in the USA FilmFestival.

In 2013, the "U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts concluded Thursday that the 17-foot-high cross, which became a spiritual symbol for workers at ground zero, does not amount to an endorsement of Christianity." Joseph Daniels, the President and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation, welcomed the court decision to continue the display of the cross, stating "is in fact a crucial part of the 9/11 Memorial Museum's mission." Furthermore, Mark Alcott, the lawyer of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation, which fought the court case against the American Atheists stated that "The museum is gratified by the decision."

The potential use of the cross in the World Trade Center Memorial has been controversial. Many groups such as families of certain Christian victims want the cross to be included. Other organizations disagree, notably the American Atheists (who have filed suit pertaining to this issue) as well as the Coalition for Jewish Concerns. Alternatively, the Anti-Defamation League (another Jewish group) issued a statement that it "fully supports the inclusion in the National September 11 Memorial & Museum of the metal beams in the shape of a cross found in the rubble at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the tragic attacks on 9/11."

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