Image: Ground Zero 'cross'
Peter Morgan  /  AP
A cross formed by steel beams from the World Trade Center is visible through a fence surrounding Ground Zero in New York in an April 12 file photo.
updated 5/14/2006 1:23:37 AM ET 2006-05-14T05:23:37

The foundation in charge of developing ground zero’s memorial and museum pledged to permanently display the two pieces of steel left standing in the shape of a cross after the World Trade Center collapsed.

WTC Memorial Foundation President and CEO Gretchen Dykstra agreed to find a place for the artifact at the site, though she acknowledged it’s a delicate issue and viewers should be allowed to draw their own conclusions about whether it has religious significance.

During recovery efforts in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, the two intersecting beams were treated with reverence by some rescue workers. The artifact was interpreted by some as a sign of hope. Religious services were held near where it stood in the smoking rubble. It remains at the site more than four years later.

“The artifact will be treated with utmost respect, but again as a public institution, we will not explicitly offer religious services in association with the artifact,” Dykstra wrote in a letter Friday to Kenneth Ringler, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site.

Dykstra said the cross could be placed in the underground museum, which is set to open in 2009, or the outdoor memorial called “Reflecting Absence” that will fill eight of ground zero’s 16 acres with two reflecting pools marking the spots where the towers stood.

“We agree wholeheartedly that this important and essential artifact belongs at the WTC site and affirm that its respectful placement, possibly with the memorial museum, will be a considered part of our content planning process,” she said.

Officials have yet to decide whether the cross would remain at the site during construction.

The Port Authority scrapped plans to temporarily store it for safekeeping in a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport after clergy groups protested.

The Rev. Brian Jordan, who has worked to keep the cross near the site, has said one likely temporary location is the side wall of St. Peter’s Church, which faces ground zero.

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