The famous 9/11 Ground Zero Cross stays at the 9/11 museum after a federal appeals court threw out the lawsuit by a group of atheists challenging the display.
Ground Zero Cross Stays
The three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court ruled Monday that the cross recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center was more of a “genuine historical artifact” than a symbol of Christianity.
The judges noted that the cross — comprised of a 17-foot steel column and a crossbeam — became a “symbol of hope and healing for all persons” in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
No one was more pleased with the ruling than Frank Silecchia, 60, the ironworker who discovered the cross in the wreckage of the twin towers two days after the 2001 attacks.
“Faith won over atheism,” the retired Silecchia, who now lives in South Carolina, told the Daily News Monday. “I’m kind of proud because that was my initial goal: to help ease the burden of humanity.”
This is an historical victory in what has become a very long and tiresome ordeal. In July of 2011, the group “American Atheists” sued the Manhattan Port Authority on grounds that housing the supposed “religious symbol” violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The case was initially thrown out, but the Atheists appealed.
After 9/11, Americans needed hope, they needed something to comfort them, and for millions upon millions, the famed “Iron Cross” (a 17-foot steel column and a crossbeam from the world trade center that appears to be in the shape of a cross) was that symbol. It represented hope on one of America’s darkest days. Regardless of anyone’s faith, this cross gave hope to millions of people on a day when America had no reason to hope for anything. It’s part of the long story of America’s healing from 9/11, and it transcends religions.
This is not just a win for religion, it is a win for all the first responders, construction workers, and civilians who died that day. It’s a win for the soldiers still giving their lives because of what happened that day. It’s a win for Americans.