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World Trade Center Steel Considered For Hillsdale Memorial

A local resident offered to donate the piece of steel, which he shaped into a cross.

Eric Stigliano holds a piece of steel from the World Trade Center shaped into a cross.
Eric Stigliano holds a piece of steel from the World Trade Center shaped into a cross.
A Hillsdale Boy Scout planning to build a memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in a public park has obtained a piece of steel from the World Trade Center, but there's one catch — it's in the shape of a cross and officials aren't sure they can put up a religious symbol. 

Eric Stigliano, who has planned the memorial for Veterans Park as his Eagle Scout project, got the piece of steel from fellow borough resident John Mockler, a retired welder who worked in New York and helped cut through the debris of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 attacks. 

Stigliano said he had been searching for a piece of World Trade Center steel for more than a year, but had otherwise come up empty-handed until last weekend.

The Hillsdale Council gave Stigliano the go-ahead Monday for most of the project, which will include a granite pillar with a bronze plaque. They were reluctant to approve the cross.

"If you have a cross on that monument, you have to have something to represent other faiths," Councilman Frank Pizzella said.

Mockler apparently crafted steel from the World Trade Center into a variety of shapes and sizes, but now has only a few crosses and one Star of David left. Borough Attorney Eric Bernstein warned against appearing to support any specific religions over any others.

Mayor Max Arnowitz, who said he would not mind the cross, suggested seeing if Mockler could reshape the metal into a secular shape.

"We would still have the metal, but we wouldn't have the religious symbol," Arnowitz said.

Stigliano will return to the council next month to get approval for the exact wording on the plaque. He said he hopes to have the memorial completed by September 11 of this year for the borough's annual ceremony.
B@B July 10, 2013 at 07:30 AM
Why did he shape this into a cross? I don't have a problem with this relic from the WTC being used as a memorial, but this strikes me as an unnecessary effort to turn this into a religious memorial -- and typical of those who would establish Christianity as a state belief system. People of many religions died in the Trade Center -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, and everyone else. To put a cross as part of the memorial, unless as with the large piece it was found that way, is just an attempt to inject a particular religion into the public sphere.
Barry Black July 10, 2013 at 10:57 AM
Ummm----Arnowitz saying he wouldn't mind the cross, sort of puts good old Max in an awkward position. In any event a single cross is a no-no. Proper representative symbols of religion for each victim in 9-11 is the way to go----there can't be more than six.
Betty Telkamp McKellar July 15, 2013 at 11:16 AM
The kid is trying do to something for his community and has worked very hard for it. Kuddos to you Eric! No adult has done this! As far as I'm concerned about the religion aspect, someone from every other religion should go as far as Eric did and their religion will be recognized also. Back off and let it be in our community park, we all deserve to see the hard work this child has put into it, religious or not.
Betty Telkamp McKellar July 15, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Kuddos to Eric! He did what no adult has done and as far as other religions are concerned, maybe they should work as hard as Eric did for his community. I'm all for sharing the religion, but why is he having a problem for sharing his? Wake up people, if you want it done, go do it but don't cry fowl on the ones that have. Respect the effort that has gone into accomplishing a goal and help him realize it as a community. We all are suppose to be a community right?

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