Cross Gives Hope for Change After 9/11
One year later, are we back to normal? Twelve months after four jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, killing 3,052 people, signs of life as it once was are all around us.
    The grief and anger that convulsed our nation for months after the diabolical attack have now been largely spent.
     Discovered two days after the attack by rescue worker Frank Silecchia, the 20-foot steel cross found in the World Trade Center wreckage was a potent symbol of hope for rescue workers dragging bodies and human remains from the rubble. Silecchia said he sobbed for 20 minutes when, two days after the attack, he happened upon the I-beam cross.
  The shoulder-to-shoulder bipartisanship that prompted legislators to assemble on the Capitol steps and sing “God Bless America” on the very day the attacks came has dissolved into the same political strife that prevailed before 9/11. 
     Right after 9/11, Dr. Kennedy said he hoped America would never be the same. “I hope the nation will be different,” he explained, “in that the hearts of the people of this country will once more be drawn to God. 
     Others took comfort in the cross, as well. Workers scribbled their names on the metal beam, and priests said mass in its shadow. George Jones, an evangelical minister who does humanitarian aid work around the world, visited Ground Zero last October and snapped the photo on this page. 
     For Jones, the cross is a “symbol that Christ had clearly embraced the pain, and the tragedy and the horror of that moment with a grace that is difficult for anyone to understand.”
It is my prayer that this heinous act may be used of God to bring about a great spiritual revival.”
Short-lived Spike
It looked for a while like it might. Church attendance spiked to 47 percent of all Americans the week after the terrorist attacks. But that jump, the highest percentage recorded since 1997, fell back to pre-attack levels by December. 
     Just like the flood of flag waving that followed 9/11, the upsurge in church attendance proved short-lived. The horror of 9/11 subsided as Americans took comfort in the leadership of President Bush and the surprisingly quick collapse of Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers. 
     One year after 9/11 even the steel beam cross found at Ground Zero has been swept up into the American culture war. American Atheists, a group that claims to represent the interests of America’s “nonbelievers” has charged that incorporating the cross into a taxpayer-funded September 11 memorial at Ground Zero “would violate the separation of church and state…
Symbol of Hope
Left standing amid the rubble at Ground Zero, the cross is also a symbol of hope for a nation devastated in the last half-century by moral decline and court rulings that displace God from public life. And while our nation has yet to learn all the lessons of 9/11, Dr. Kennedy harbors hope for our land. “I believe America can be reclaimed,” he said. “I believe that this nation can be brought back to God.” 


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