"You just want to cry": Palos Hills preacher visits WTC site
By Jim Hook, Daily Southtown Staff Reporter.
Source: Daily Southtown, July 1st, 2002
The Rev. Andrew Harrison had a few weeks to prepare himself for what
would confront him once he reached the site of the World Trade Center in New York. He
still wasn't ready for what he saw when he arrived last week to pick up a piece of steel
beam from the towers that will be used as a memorial in the 98 year--old St. Luke the
Evangelist Orthodox Church in Palos Hills.
Harrison said Monday he doesn't know if he could have ever really been
ready for what he experienced when he arrived at ground zero. "You just want to cry," he
said. "But there is anger there too. You ask yourself why would someone do this to us,"
He said he was amazed at the size of the hole in the ground where the
towers and other prominent buildings once stood majestically over the New York City
landscape. "The mass destruction in and around there is incredible," Harrison said. "The
whole area is devastated. "There's a kind of reverence associated with the site," he said. "It's like a cemetery."
Harrison said everywhere he looked he was reminded of the tragedy that
occurred Sept 11. He said he saw signs that said, "Don't call this Ground Zero, but rather
the Ground of Heroes" and "We will never forget." Harrison said being at the site "made it
real." "You watch it on TV or read about it in the newspaper and you are removed from it,"
he said. "But when you are there, it has a real impact on you."
Harrison said he was most affected by front-page photos in a New York
Times newspaper that showed people hanging off buildings and jumping to their deaths
Sept. 11. "People were actually jumping from these tall buildings," he said, pausing for a
moment to compose himself "I had dreams about what that must have been like on my trip back.
"Harrison returned last week with a 200-pound piece of steel beam from
one of the World Trade Center. He said a church committee will decide where to display the
piece of steel beam. One option, Harrison said, is including it in the church's new bell
The 160-member, Orthodox church, is undergoing. a $1 million renovation
that includes new Sunday school classrooms, offices, a vestibule, a basement and the bell
tower. Harrison wrote a letter to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg asking for a piece
of the World Trade Center to incorporate into the church's new bell tower. He said he
received a phone call two weeks ago from Bloomberg's office saying his request had been
Bloomberg's office has allocated more than 93 pieces of steel to church
and nonprofit groups on the stipulation that they be used as memorials. Harrison picked up
the steel beam from a cordoned-off section of ground zero. He wrapped the steel beam in an
American flag for the journey home. "I took special care driving home with that beam"
Harrlson said "It's sacred because 2,823 lives are connected to it"