Beaming With Freedom-& Pride-At Ground Zero
The first steel beam that will be part of the 1,776 Freedom Tower at Ground Zero was raised and installed two weeks ago at Ground Zero where the Twin Towers once stood. The 25-ton, 31-foot column painted with an American flag - that was originally incorrectly painted on sideways - and the words "Freedom Tower" was lifted from its horizontal position and erected vertically on December 19 in a joyous, albeit solemn, ceremony at the southern edge of the site.
Following years of squabbling and debates over what the former World Trade Center site should look like, outgoing Governor George Pataki presided over the poignant service and was choked up as he remarked, "We build this for the heroes of 9/11 and to express our love for them… America's strength is evident in these columns of steel."
Six more columns had been placed by year's end, including two with signatures of September 11 families, steelworkers, architects and politicians that will not be on public display. Builders have said that before next summer, jumbo steel columns, weighing an estimated 45,000 tons, will rise to street level.
Neil S. Friedman