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"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," Harrison said.

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 tower.

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 granted.

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"

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