The 9-11 Memorial Monument at Holy Cross Cemetery
Within the first few weeks after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Andrew P. Schafer, Executive Director of Catholic Cemeteries for the Archdiocese of Newark, noticed a makeshift memorial in Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, N.J. A cemetery fence facing the New York City skyline was covered with Mass cards, flowers, prayer cards, signs seeking missing people and more. It became the spot where people gathered. A spot where the panoramic view of the city skyline was now missing the Twin Towers.
Schafer decided a memorial in Holy Cross Cemetery would be appropriate. The structure would fill a void and possibly offer hope to those who needed it.
A community-based fundraising program helped raise $225,000 for the planning, materials and building of the 2,000-pound structure in time for a dedication Mass ten years later.
The stainless steel structure of the monument, designed by a local artist, is an abstract view of the Twin Towers in the sky. Each side of the frame features a titanium panel representing a montage of experiences during and after 9-11. Such scenes include the aftermath of 9-11, response teams running toward the towers to save innocent civilians, and people coming together to remember those who died.
The cross in the structure’s center is a visual illusion that comes together when you look at the memorial from the front. It is an interpretation of the “cross” steel beams found at ground zero and it became an important symbol to those affected by 9-11. The red, amber and orange hued stained glass inside the cross signifies the fire and experiences that took place on 9-11, and the red also is synonymous with the blood of Christ.
The base of the memorial is composed of granite pavers extracted from Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart on which Saint John Paul II and Saint Teresa of Calcutta walked. Additionally, twisted beams from the original Twin Towers are on display donated to us by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The creation and dedication of this extraordinary monument deeply touched members of the local fire department. As such, they adopted it for their brigade’s own emblem in memory of their fallen brethren and specially-designed lapel pins bearing the Holy Cross 9-11 monument and inscription were created: “We Remember. We Believe. Holy Cross Cemetery, N. Arlington, NJ, Dedication Mass, September 22, 2011.”
“It’s a place of hope, and people often meditate or sit quietly and reflect around it.” – Andrew Schafer, Catholic Cemeteries
During the two years that the monument was under construction and the nine years of fundraising efforts, many gifted individuals contributed to the initiative. The 9-11 tragedy was particularly personal for our New Jersey area residents. Extra attention and efforts were extended at every turn, from donated materials and time, to the precise preparation of the foundation, to the polisher of the welds, to the fabricator of the titanium photo montage panels, to the landscaping. The monument is a colossal gift from the hearts of countless individuals and our local communities.
Today, the Holy Cross Cemetery 9-11 Memorial is a place of hope and healing. People often meditate or sit quietly and reflect around it. When visiting the memorial, one will notice the many fingerprints on the titanium montage panels from people who touch the structure and desire to be a part of its message.
In memory of all the victims of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath… we hope this memorial provides a peaceful place for visitation and prayer.