Even after the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it remains a powerful symbol that continues to generate more attention and support. The Ground Zero cross - the steel beams fashioned into the shape of a cross on 9/11 - was the focal point for many who took part in Sunday's remembrance of the September 11th terrorists attack.
In fact, much has been written about the history of the Ground Zero cross - discovered just two days after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. The Ground Zero cross became a focal point where thousands gathered. Father Brian Jordan, a Franciscan priest who was blessing remains at Ground Zero for days and weeks following the attack, underscored the importance of the cross, where many gathered: "We had Jews, Muslims, Buddhists. People who believed or didn't believe. It was a matter of human solidarity. Whether you believed was irrelevant. We needed some type of fellowship down there, other than working."
From the very beginning it was clear that this cross held a special place in history - a symbol of hope and of comfort. "The cross is a perfect example," says Joe Daniels, the September 11th Memorial Foundation's president. "That was an artifact that was literally born from the site, and it played an actual role during that hellish recovery period."
The flawed legal challenge by American Atheists to the Ground Cross is moving slowly in the court system. We are monitoring developments closely and will file an amicus brief on behalf of 100,000 Americans at the appropriate time.
As you may recall, most Americans - three out of four - have said they support the Ground Zero cross. And, now a new development - strong support from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
In a statement released, the ADL says:
"ADL 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.
Allowing this cross to be included in the memorial along with other artifacts found at the site does not constitute government endorsement of a religious message. Rather, it is an acknowledgement that these beams - part of the infrastructure of one of the towers - acquired historical significance by giving comfort to many who lost loved ones in the attacks, as well as those who spent days and weeks sifting through the ash and debris.
The beams have been a part of the scene at Ground Zero ever since 9/11, and their inclusion in the memorial is appropriate."
In the years since 2001, the Ground Zero cross played a vital role in the recovery and rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. And now, with its inclusion in the World Trade Center Memorial and Museum, it will be viewed by millions of Americans in the years to come.
It didn't take a museum for Americans - especially those who worked at Ground Zero - to appreciate the importance of this symbol. Years ago, it became clear that the cross would become a part of September 11th history when a welder affixed a steel plaque to the cross which read: "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."
Yesterday, a federal appeals court heard oral argument in a critical case we have been involved in to defend a historic war memorial from an angry atheist attack. When World War II veterans returned from fighting in Italy, they wanted to memorialize their brothers-in-arms who didn’t return home.
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