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Thread: Ceremony Tonight at WTC Site

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    Ceremony Tonight at WTC Site

    Ceremony Tonight at WTC Site
    Final girder to be cut

    By GREG GITTRICH
    Daily News Staff Writer

    More than 200,000 tons of steel lifted the twin towers to the heights of the city's skyline. Now, one girder remains

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    Last Steel Column From the Ground Zero Rubble Is Cut Down

    Last Steel Column From the Ground Zero Rubble Is Cut Down
    By CHARLIE LeDUFF

    t was a night for the working people, a brief, private moment to reflect on their 37 weeks spent together at ground zero. A night to mark the end.

    Column No. 1,001 B of 2 World Trade Center, the last symbolic piece of the unfathomable recovery effort, was cut down at 8:17 p.m. yesterday by operating engineers, ironworkers, teamsters, laborers and dock builders.
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    The 58-ton piece of steel from the south tower was laid on a flatbed truck, wrapped in black muslin and an American flag, and tucked in a corner of the pit. It will be taken out tomorrow morning as part of the ceremony marking the end of the recovery effort at ground zero. The world will participate by television.

    Last night there were a few government officials, along with a group of police officers and firefighters, including a retired fire captain who had not found his dead son. There was a bugler, bagpipers and a few hundred men and women with sad memories of abandoned shoes and acrid-smelling smoke and eerie green vapor.

    The time spent here has played on their minds. Over these past eight and a half months spent at ground zero, the workers are convinced that they have seen ghosts and been visited by old friends in their dreams.

    They are sure they have inhaled asbestos and plastics and human remains, unsure of what the physical and spiritual effects of ground zero will have on them in the days and months and years ahead.

    They gathered at Vesey and West Streets around 7 p.m. and fell in line behind the drums and pipes, and moved down West Street into the pit. The American flag was removed from the top of the column, folded and presented to Lou Mendes of the Department of Design and Construction. The blowtorch was lighted and passed among the tradesmen from Ironworkers Local 40, Laborers Locals 79 and 731, Dock Builders Local 1456 and International Operating Engineers Locals 14 and 15. Each took turns cutting a piece away.

    Joe Bradley, 57, helped build the twin towers, helped remove their remains and will undoubtedly be here to rebuild. "Don't ever forget these days, boys," he said before the ceremony as work in the pit continued. "We came in as individuals, and we'll walk out together."

    Let history show that many of these men and women were here on the afternoon of Sept. 11, having abandoned their jobs elsewhere in the metropolitan region. How they scribbled their names and phone numbers on their forearms those first few days in case they were swallowed up in a hole and killed.

    Also, let it note these small memories. How the workers wept over the abandoned shoes lying in the streets left by people running for their lives. How people laughed that second evening as the ironworkers wore cashmere coats and scarves and fedoras from Brooks Brothers as they burned the steel to brace themselves against the cold.

    It was a family affair, and they were represented last night. The Reinle brothers: Edward, 60, a heavy-machine operator; Thomas, 59, a firefighter; William, 58, an ironworker; and Richard, 57, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority technician. There were others. The Cipriano brothers. The Fossati brothers, the Nolans, Bradleys, Grays and so on.

    "You found out who you were," Joe Bradley said of his time here. "What it means to be an American, what it is to stand up."

    There were no speeches in the hole, a smattering of silence among the shouts of "U.S.A." and "Union, Union, Union" and loved ones calling by cellphone. The pit smelled of wet mud and cigarette smoke.

    The work is officially over and the work done was remarkable. It came in under budget, three months ahead of schedule and without one serious injury in 1.5 million man-hours. Still, business is business and the layoffs come quickly. The lucky workers have already been assigned to new jobs or have gone back to the old ones, like the AOL Time Warner job in Columbus Circle. Others will be shaping up in the union halls today hoping for a chance of work.

    It is finally over and the workers went on their way from ground zero to deal with that alone. There were no psychologists to debrief them, no respiratory doctors to meet them.

    When the column was stowed away, the men and women marched up the ramp through a Navy honor guard, and each worker was handed an American flag. The workers walked past the banner that read "We Will Never Forget" and headed for the taverns.

    There, they talked about the lives to be gotten on with. One man talked of seeing the barber to get his collar line cut properly; he has been trimming his own hair since September.

    Another has a marriage to patch up. Another talked about making it up to his daughter for missing her recital. There was the hunting trip in Canada and baseball games to see. The future to look forward to.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/29/nyregion/29GIRD.html

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    Final Girder Taken Down

    Final Girder Taken Down
    Had stood as somber sentinel

    By GREG GITTRICH and CORKY SIEMASZKO
    Daily News Staff Writers

    Now there's nothing left.

    Two hundred sixty days after a pair of hijacked planes sent the twin towers crashing to the ground, the last standing girder was taken down yesterday.

    With the slice of a magnesium torch, construction workers dismantled the final vestige of the World Trade Center and marked an unofficial end to one of the world's biggest and most heartbreaking recovery efforts.

    Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. Pataki and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta joined the cops and firefighters, the hardhats and volunteers who descended seven stories into The Pit and watched the beam go down just before 8:30 p.m.

    "The construction workers who have dedicated themselves to this effort are on the verge of completing an enormous job, and in many ways this is their night to reflect and remember," Bloomberg said.

    "Thank God we're finally done," said Jeff Zelli of Laborers Union Local 79. "We can rebuild now. Damn the terrorists. We're on our feet already, and we're going to build something beautiful."

    The 36-foot-tall, 58-ton column was carefully lifted onto a flatbed truck, where it was covered in a black shroud and secured with black chains before an American flag was draped over it.

    At the controls of the crane was Dick Nolan, who helped build the towers three decades ago. "I didn't enjoy this," he said. "But I feel privileged to be lifting out the last piece of steel."

    After bagpipers played "Amazing Grace," there was a moment of silence with workers solemnly holding their hardhats over their hearts. As the workers slowly walked up the ramp out of The Pit, they were saluted by firefighters and cops.

    Armed services representatives handed the workers folded American flags. Bloomberg, who stood at the top of the ramp, shook every worker's hand.

    "Thank you, thank you so much," the mayor said.

    To Be Part of Memorial

    Column 1001 B, which had once helped support the southwest corner of the south tower, will be taken tomorrow to a hangar at Kennedy Airport. One day, it will be part of a memorial for the more than 2,800 people who died Sept. 11.

    After the buildings were destroyed, the rusting beam stood like a steel sentinel amid the devastation and came to symbolize for many the defiance of New Yorkers in the face of terror.

    On it, Port Authority police and the city's Finest and Bravest marked their losses in spray paint. At the very top they wrote "PAPD" and the number 37. Then they wrote "NYPD" and the number 23, followed by "FDNY" and the number 343.

    Over time, the beam was plastered with photos of those who died and messages from children to parents who would never come home. Over time, so many flowers collected at the foot of the beam that workers had to carry them off by the armful.

    Before the girder was cut down, Brooklyn ironworker Chris Pillai was raised by crane to the top of the beam to remove the U.S. flag that had been mounted there. He waved the stars and stripes as workers chanted "U.S.A., U.S.A."

    "When we came down here this looked insurmountable," he said. "This is a great tribute to the trades getting together and finishing a monumental task."

    Still, many of the victims' relatives were upset when Bloomberg announced it was time to close the most painful chapter in New York's history.

    In the hours before the last beam came down, the last of the 1.6 million tons of steel and rubble removed, cops and firefighters found five small bones.

    Bell Tolls at 10:29

    Tomorrow, the city's formal ceremony to close Ground Zero will begin with the ringing of a Fire Department ceremonial bell at 10:29 a.m., the time the north tower collapsed.

    The beam

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