Graffiti welcome at hallowed NYC site

  • Updated: January 24, 2013 - 8:15 PM

NEW YORK - On most construction projects, workers are discouraged from signing or otherwise scrawling on the iron and concrete. At the skyscraper rising at ground zero, though, they're being invited to leave messages for the ages.

"Freedom Forever. WTC 9/11" is scrawled on a beam near the top of the gleaming, 104-story One World Trade Center. "Change is from within" is on a beam on the roof. One of the last pieces of steel hoisted up last year holds a message, at right: "We remember. We rebuild. We come back stronger!" It is signed by a visitor to the site last year -- President Obama.

The words on beams, walls and stairwells of the skyscraper that replaces the twin towers lost on Sept. 11, 2001, form the graffiti of defiance and rebirth, what ironworker supervisor Kevin Murphy calls "things from the heart." They're remembrances of the 2,700 people who died, and testaments to the hope that rose from a shattered morning. "Everyone here wants to be here, they want to put this building up," he says. "They're part of the redemption."

On a frigid, windy day, Murphy supervised a crew of men guiding the first piece of the steel spire that will top out the building at a dizzying 1,776 feet -- the tallest in the Western Hemisphere.

People on the ground will never see the writing high in the Manhattan sky. The graffiti will disappear as the raw basic structure is covered with drywall, ceiling panels and paint. But workers and visitors take photos, and vow not to forget.

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