Ground Zero first-responder defends controversial WTC cross

Ground Zero first-responder defends controversial WTC cross


by BORA KIM / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @BoraKimWCNC

Posted on March 7, 2014 at 6:38 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 7 at 6:40 AM

ROCK HILL, S.C. -- A Rock Hill man is speaking out in defense of keeping the iconic World Trade Center Cross displayed at the 9/11 Museum.

Construction worker Frank Selecchia, 49, who hails from Brooklyn, found the cross amid the rubble 12 years ago.

In 2010 Selecchia moved to Rock Hill for some “peace and quiet”, but says not a day goes by he doesn’t think about his time at Ground Zero.

“I live it every day. It doesn’t go away. I’m haunted by the images of people I knew,” he said.

Despite his physical condition from exposure to toxic chemicals, Selecchia says the cross continues to be a source of healing.

“If you look in the picture, you will see other crosses, to me that was Calvary.”

Its religious symbolism, however, remains a source of contention.

The group called the American Atheists filed a lawsuit in 2011 to keep the cross from being displayed at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Members gathered outside a New York Courthouse to appeal the federal judge's decision.

“This is an active religious symbol. It’s not a historical artifact. We want it moved out of there, if it isn’t we would like equal representation,” said a member of the atheists group Thursday.

A judge ruled the cross “demonstrates how those at Ground zero coped with the devastation they witnessed”.

Selecchia says he say that, first-hand.

“You got to remember, we were pulling bodies out of there that were unrecognizable, pieces of people, heads rolling around. That is why it is important for history, to let it be known that there was something there that actually comforted people.”

Selecchia is a proud Christian, but says this cross is not about religion, but rather about faith.

“It’s a symbol of hope, on that day, our nation; our country was devastated and out of the ashes rose Christ to show that he is still there, as far as I am concerned. For others, it may be an avenue to their faith to help deal with what they’ll see at the museum.”