Pataki, family members sign Freedom Tower beam

Newsday - December 18, 2006

by KAREN MATTHEWS


Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK -- Family members of Sept. 11 victims left messages of affection on a 53.5-ton steel beam that will one day become part of the base of the Freedom Tower at a resurrected World Trade Center site.

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 Sunday at Battery Park City, where the beam is on display.

Gov. George Pataki and ground zero master planner Daniel Libeskind joined the Sept. 11 victims' family members and others.

"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 Sunday. Victims' family members and then members of the general public were invited to sign it.

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 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, Va., where they were fabricated into "built-up" columns by having plates welded to their sides.

Approximately 45,000 tons of steel will be used to build the entire Freedom Tower.