The New York Times reported Tuesday on the installation of a cross at the St. Nicholas National Shrine beneath the World Trade Center. The Times’ article included a most curious assertion:
The cross is the first overtly religious symbol to appear in the public realm at the World Trade Center, where officials have often contorted themselves to maintain a secular air. (What almost everyone knows as the “World Trade Center cross,” for instance, is officially referred to as the “intersecting steel beam.”)
Now, I’m no fancy pants New York Times reporter, but I immediately thought of my visit to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum just over two years ago. My strongest memory from said visit is of passing through metal detectors at the very site responsible for normalizing the use of metal detectors just about everywhere else.
My most puzzling memory involved the museum’s decision to exhibit said “intersecting steel beam” and — more specifically — to explicitly label it “The Cross at Ground Zero”. So I checked my photos, because I would hate to provide my readers with false and incorrect information without double-checking it:
Hard to imagine anyone referring to it much more officially than that.
I took only a handful of photographs during my visit (I also tried to photograph those historic metal detectors, but an ever-vigilant security guard forced me to delete the images), but I made sure to also snap a shot of the lesser-known, unlabeled “Shin at Ground Zero”:*
All the more surprising because — unlike 9/11 itself — the 9/11 Memorial & Museum actually was planned by Israelis.
*For anyone interested in what this actually is, see here. I apologize, generally speaking, for the quality of these photographs. At the time I took them, I had no specific plans to “publish” them.