By Paul Lomax and Tom Liddy
LOWER MANHATTAN - The World Trade Center Cross emerged from the mangled wreckage of the towers, a symbol of the city's resolve in the wake of the worst terrorist attacks the country had ever seen.
It served as a reminder of those who passed on 9/11 and was a symbol of hope to recovery workers as they toiled on the pile in the days after the attacks in a desperate search for life.
Nearly 10 years later, the cross, a 17-foot tall section of intersecting steel beams, returned to Ground Zero, lowered into its resting place at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
Father Brian Jordan, who held services at the base of the cross every Sunday during the recovery period, blessed the relic at Zuccotti Park, near the Trade Center site.
"This was a special moment for me today," said the Franciscan priest.
"After a 10 year journey, this cross, which has been a symbol of faith and hope for thousands of people is going to its final resting place."
The cross was first discovered by construction worker Frank Silecchia at Ground Zero near the wreckage of 6 World Trade Center.
From there, it was moved to the edge of the site, near West Street, where it was blessed by Father Jordan.
On Feb. 14, 2002, the cross moved to Church and Cortland streets. Then, on Oct. 5, 2006, it was moved to the side of St. Peter's Church, between Vesey and Barclay streets, where it remained until Saturday.
A giant, red-and-white crane lifted the massive steel structure off of a flatbed truck around 10:50 a.m. and slowly lowered it into place.
While it was being moved, a crowd pressed their faces against the glass of the Winter Garden to watch and construction workers stopped what they were doing. The only sound was the whirring of machinery as the cross descended 70 feet into the museum below.
The cross is among other objects such as fire trucks that would be too large to be placed in the museum after construction is finished.
The ceremony in Zuccotti Park was emotional attendees.
"After today, my country will finally have a place to come and mourn for the firefighters, the NYPD officers and all of the people who lost their lives on that day," said Silecchia, 57.
"And it should also be a place of remembrance for the first responders and their families who risked their lives at Ground Zero and who are dying every month since."
And Bridgitte Cagney, 70, a Salvation Army volunteer, said: "This cross is a symbol of hope and faith for all of the world, especially for those who lost loved ones on 9/11."
With Colleen Long, AP