Victims' Families Sign World Trade Center Beam

Updated: 12-18-2006 12:46:10 PM

Associated Press WorldStream
via NewsEdge Corporation

NEW YORK_Gov. George Pataki and architect Daniel Libeskind joined Sept. 11 attacks victims' family members Sunday in signing a 53.5-ton (48.7-metric ton) steel beam that is to form part of the base of the new Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site.

"It was very emotional to join the, as you can see, hundreds of people here who are signing their names and leaving messages for their loved ones on the first steel beam that will rise as part of the base of the Freedom Tower," Pataki said. "I think it just shows that it's important that we not just rebuild or rethink about what was here on Sept. 11, but that we soar to new heights."

The steel beam, which is to be put in place at ground zero this week, was on display in Battery Park City a few blocks from the trade center site. Victims' family members and then members of the general public were invited to sign it.

Karen Miller signed in memory of her brother, Firefighter John Santore.

"I want people to remember everyone who was lost and to remember him," she said.

Doug Gomez, a neighborhood resident who volunteered at ground zero, wrote on the beam, "Goodness and understanding will prevail over hatred and intolerance! We will never forget."

Others wrote personal notes to lost loved ones.

"Uncle Peter, my hero."

"Big Ed - Always thinking of you. You would be proud of the job Mary has done with the kids. Love, Wild Bill."

Pataki has just two weeks left in office, and Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer has questioned the economic viability of the 1,776-foot (533-meter) tower.

"This isn't another office building where economics should drive every decision," Pataki said when questioned about Spitzer's remarks. "This is a symbol of New York's greatness. This is a symbol of overcoming and building on the sacrifice of the heroes of Sept. 11, and that we will soar to new heights and recapture New York's skyline."

Pataki wrote on the beam, "God bless our heroes and God Bless America. We will never forget."

Libeskind wrote the words he spoke when his master plan for the trade center site was chosen in 2003, "Life victorious!"

"It is a very moving day," he said afterward. "This beam is not only supporting a physical building. It's supporting the spirit of America."

The column was one of 27 steel beams forged in Differdange, Luxembourg. They were shipped to Lynchburg, Virginia, where they were fabricated into "built-up" columns by having plates welded to their sides.

Approximately 45,000 tons (40,950 metric tons) of steel will be used to build the entire Freedom Tower.

<<Associated Press WorldStream -- 12/18/06>>