Thursday, August 11, 2011


Earlier in the week we’d heard rumors of bad weather for Thursday. This comes after encountering two hours of precipitation in the mountains of northern New Mexico way back in May and not a drop of rain before or since. We’d also endured days of triple-digit temperatures and sweltering humidity, in New Orleans and Memphis and New York, which may be preferable to the skies opening up but such weather leaves you dripping just the same.

On this August evening in New York City the heavens couldn’t have been a more forgiving shade of blue.

Motorcycles & A Manhattan Sunrise

This morning was spent grinding out and polishing over all the nicks and imperfections that weren’t there last night. It is truly an amazing mystery how a piece of steel, touched by nothing but the air, can develop new scratches overnight. But art is art, and this cross was something more even, so kept at it we did, grinding and smoothing and polishing, again and again, aiming for perfection, not at all mindful of what was bound to happen to the metal on the ride down the highway and into Manhattan.

There were two more pizza boxes in the trash can when show time rolled around – the moment of truth when we’d find out just how straight (or not) the cross would stand. It would be far too tall for the rafters in the barn; we’d have to do it outside, on a patch of cracking, crumbling and most likely not level concrete. The cross was already back outside and waiting, the smaller portion of the base attached to its feet. The much larger part of the base, ten feet tall and five hundred pounds easy, was still inside. There were two dollies over in the corner, doing absolutely nothing – but the weight of the base would crush those small wheels right into the dirt of the barn floor. ‘Let’s just carry it,’ Jon said, not a hint of irony or sarcasm in his voice.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Working Toward a Miracle Finish

The final hours and days of the journey came not so much like a long-awaited summer afternoon but rather like the perfect storm.

Throughout the country Jon had the pleasure of showing his cross to thousands of admiring, appreciative people – and the luxury of telling them that ‘when it’s finished it will be polished to a mirror finish.’ That luxury was now a distant memory, as the next time Jon would show off his memorial – at a date and time coming fast – that promised mirror finish had to be there.

Probably not for the first time, Jon had his doubts.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Metal-Working & Paper-Pushing

Things have been hectic around the barn. Two months and five thousand miles can leave their mark.

To give the cross a proper final polish our hale and hearty metal workers have not been holding back. As of this afternoon three pieces of the cross lie on a thick blue padded blanket, shined and ready to go; the two parts that make up the arms are being touched up under the skilled hand of Anthony Serrao; the heart of the cross, a huge four-pointed star, leans up against a saw horse as Jon grinds it down and buffs it out and polishes it up once again. Thursday is indeed approaching fast, so fast that Jon has had to put yours truly in charge of sticking an orbital sander to the broad, blemished surface of the ten-foot-tall stainless steel base.

The all-important permit process continues to evolve as well. Surprisingly enough, Jon will not be able to simply show up in Manhattan with a 28-foot sculpture and a crane; sticklers from some city department are demanding paperwork and payment. (Unlike the other eight thousand people we’ve met, these strident rule and regulation types seem utterly emotionally unmoved by Jon’s undertaking.)

All joking aside, we have entered the homestretch and have plenty yet to accomplish. From early morning to late at night Jon and Anthony are making monumental, incremental strides in readying the cross for its upcoming unveiling. The generator is humming. Sounds of squealing, grinding metal fill the air, reverberating in this cavernous thirty-tress barn. It’s pizza for dinner again.

What an incredible, unbelievable journey.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Final Days of the Journey

Anthony Serrao working his magic in the studio.
After a brief hiatus we are back and ready for the final push, preparing the Cross for the official unveiling.

Anthony Serrao, Jon's right hand man in the studio since the first days of the project, flies in today from Los Angeles, bringing his know-how, expertise and as much hardware as they will allow on the plane. In these next few days, Jon and Anthony will be grinding and welding and polishing away in an undisclosed location in New Jersey - though if you ask Jon he'll probably tell you where it is if you tell him you'll bring Gatorade.

The unveiling and dedication, as some of you may know, will take place this coming Thursday, August 11th at 6:00 pm outside St. Peter's Catholic Church, on the corner of Barclay & Church Streets in Lower Manhattan, just one block northeast of the former site of the World Trade Center. All are invited to take part in what promises to be an exciting and emotional event. There will be a reception immediately following the ceremony; beverages and hors d'oeuvres will be served. Location to be announced here and on Twitter.

Please don't forget to like the St. Peter 9-11 Cross facebook page! We have an ambitious goal of 1,000 likes by the time the Cross goes up on the 11th - please urge your friends to give us a click on facebook today!

The Journey is almost complete. Thank you all for all your support along the way.

We look forward to seeing you on Thursday.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Part of Something Special

Frank Silecchia wasn’t about to go back to New Jersey. Not this time.

The day before, stuck in traffic on the Passaic River Bridge, he had watched the towers fall. He had begged the toll booth operator to let him over the Bayonne Bridge. He had fought his way into the city, down to the smoldering rubble - only to be told there was nothing he could do to help. Deferring to the confusion dominating the day, the union worker from Brooklyn, now living across the Hudson River, slowly turned around and began to make his way home.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Representing Humanity

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik has no problem with putting a cross at the soon-to-open September 11th Memorial & Museum. ‘I have great respect for the religious symbols of all people,’ he said, standing in the late morning sun beating down on East 39th Street. But as the Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis, Mr. Potasnik has fielded innumerable calls and inquiries from the Jewish community. What about our symbols? What about those of our faith who died that day? Noting that ground zero is now the most visited site in New York City, he states he ‘would like to see other symbols represented on an equal level.’

Unfortunately no I-beam Star of David was found in the Trade Center wreckage.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dealing (or not) With Differences

Throughout this journey, all across the country, we’ve seen some familiar reactions again and again: sad remembrance; heartfelt gratitude; peace, healing and closure. Today we encountered with the Newark police and fire departments what we found two months ago with the firemen in Santa Fe: they had no idea why we were there. Predictably, upon explanation the mood changes, intensifies, becomes more intimate. ‘At first we just thought we were coming down for some kind of photo op for somebody,’ remarked one of Newark’s finest. ‘Now it all makes sense.’ From there those emotions surface once more, in the kind of familiar moment that could never become redundant.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Uniting & Reuniting

Mona Zaloom stood among her friends, men and women representing over half a dozen different religions. ‘Building Bridges came about soon after 9-11,’ she said with pride-bolstered passion. ‘We all wanted something better for our world, for our community.’ A quiet chorus of agreement floated among our new friends: Father O’Hara, a Catholic priest; Reverend Karlson, a Unitarian minister; Imam Tahir Kukaj from the Albania Islamic Center; Sultan Jain, head of the Hindu temple down on Victory Boulevard; young Nicholas Tamborra, a Greek Orthodox; Chuck the Episcopalian minister; Jerry of the Jewish faith, an active Building Bridges member and an architect whose first job was working on the new Twin Towers; and Mona’s husband, a parishioner in the local Greek Catholic Church. Soon Hesham from the Staten Island Muslim Civic Center would also join the crowd.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Words and Simplicity

‘When at first you are not close enough to know people as individuals, then you get a better look at what people are really about, your perception changes.’ Dr. Ali Chaudry smiled in the midday sun. The London School of Economics-educated Rutgers University Professor and former Bernards Township Mayor had just spent his morning speaking on and answering questions about his faith. Sweating under his suit in the library parking lot, he expounded on the peace that all of us wish for. ‘We condemned the attacks as un-Islamic,’ he said, speaking for his religious community in words that had been used many times before. ‘This was an atrocity committed by people who hijacked Islam.’

Those people, he said sadly and unequivocally, did not speak for him. They were not doing God’s work. They misinterpret the teachings of the Qur'an.

The road to enlightened agreement, he readily admits, is long and hard.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Those Closest To Us

Former Marine Stevens Garcia
John ‘Jack’ O’Marra was having a heck of a morning. The drive from Morristown, New Jersey takes time enough on a regular day; on this clear, temperate morning the trip would take turn after fated turn.
‘A colleague of mine, Keith, was also scheduled to attend the nine o’clock meeting,’ Jack explained as we stood outside the Resurrection Parish Church in Randolph. ‘He called me and told me he couldn’t make it, but I still had to stop by his office to get some paperwork he had for the meeting.’ There Jack got caught up in a ten-minute conversation with someone in the lobby before walking in and listening to Keith’s boss offering up a lengthy apology for Keith. Then he walked into Keith’s office and received another apology from Keith himself. It was already eight o’clock by the time Jack arrived at his own office in Morristown.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Celebrating Life, Remembering Loss

On our way back from New York this past Thursday night Jon pulled into the parking lot of Johnny's, Boonton's long-time local watering hole. 'Gotta use the men's room, I'll be right back.' By the time he did get back a dozen and a half firemen were gathered around, wanting to know more about 'this huge hunk of metal' hanging off the back of his pickup.

We, on the other hand, were intrigued as to why eighteen volunteer firefighters would be hanging out in front of the fire station at ten o'clock at night.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Little Light on the Subject

NBC News caught up with us in Manhattan on Friday to bring the story of the Cross to so many more people than we could possibly reach on our own. Thank you Pat Battle for tracking us down - sorry for the mix-up coming out of the Battery Tunnel!

Watch the clip of the Cross in Manhattan here. This report has also been posted in shorter form on

After our stop in Manhattan we drove by police escort through Brooklyn and over into Staten Island. On the waterfront facing the south end of Manhattan, at the 9-11 Memorial known as The Postcards, over a hundred firemen, policemen and public officials gathered for a viewing of the Cross. Staten Island, as many know, was hit hard by 9-11, losing over 300 people on that day and in the aftermath.

Tom Wrobleski of Staten Island Live reports on the event here, accompanied by a video clip of Jon with the crowd. Deep gratitude goes out to Staten Island's policemen and firemen who made it all possible.

This Saturday, July 23rd, the I-beam cross will be removed from St. Peter's Church, to be moved back to its original spot on the former World Trade Center site. In the lead-up to this momentous occasion Jon plans to bring his Cross to a few more people; thereafter the Cross will go through its final preparations for the August 11th installation.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sorrow, Solace & Strength

When Richard Sheirer heard something was going on at the World Trade Center he placed a call to Building 7. Moments later he was standing inside Tower 1, speaking with two friends he would never see again. Later that day his wife would only know he was okay because she could see the green and white pinstripes of his shirt sleeve on TV. Today the former Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management paid us a visit to share his thoughts.

'This is going to be so incredibly powerful,' he said, holding a page of the etched stainless steel Book of Names in his hands. 'New York never sleeps, you know? People are going to be looking at this twenty-four-seven.' We thought back to our midnight visit to the Oklahoma City Memorial; as people go there to grieve and to reflect, so too, perhaps, will some here also find solace in dark hours.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Into the Heart of the Ache

Back in May a woman named Sabrina from Staten Island ran a search for 'steel sculpture'. Two months of chaos theory later we find ourselves in an office on Van Duzer Street, in the super-charged company of George Christo*.

'Every fire station in the borough is showing up!' he whooped, clapping his hands together. 'Unless there's a three-alarm fire, Chief said we'll be there.' George jumped back on the phone, fire in his eyes lit by the prospect of an incredible afternoon on the North Shore.

This Friday at three o'clock Jon will be bringing his cross to The Postcards, Staten Island's waterfront memorial to her men and women lost on 9-11. Through the neighborhood, among the firefighting community and all the way up to the office of Borough President James Molinaro we could feel a tangible wave of emotion rising. And this was just in a couple of hours. After weeks of prepping and polishing and waiting the cross will stand once again, for the first time in full view of the altered Manhattan landscape.

BUT FIRST... Thursday (July 14th, tomorrow as this goes online) we will be rolling into Hoboken, New Jersey. For those close by, look for us in the area of the PATH station as 5:00 draws near. Saturday we plan on heading into Brooklyn; we have no set schedule, but as we learned on our way across the country some of the best moments arise when we leave things to Chance. For up-to-the-minute information on the whereabouts of the cross be sure to follow us on twitter. We'd love to see you out there.

* George Christo and Sabrina Hamilton of Door to Door Realty have been instrumental in turning our planned visit to Staten Island into a most promising occasion. Thank you both for your tremendous help, we wish you all the best as you continue to brighten your borough through your honorable, admirable work.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

'Cross Country' - The Journey on Film

Across the miles, from Malibu to Manhattan, Jason Smith and his film crew had the cameras rolling. At gas stations, in parking lots, from the roof of their vehicle as they flew down the highway, the guys behind the cameras captured the thousands of moments that have made up the yet-ongoing experience. Now, for the first time, Jason brings those moments to you.

Cross Country remains a project in the works as Jon prepares for the penultimate leg of the journey. From July 13th he will be bringing his sculpted steel memorial to some of the places most intimately tied, the communities most profoundly affected by the events of September 11th. In what promises to be an emotional event Jon will be in New York City on July 23rd when the original I-beam cross is moved from St. Peter's Church back to ground zero. The crowning moment of the St. Peter 9-11 Cross story unfolds on August 11th, one month before the ten-year anniversary of the attacks, as Jon raises his memorial to those lost, his tribute to those who gave, his symbol of hope for all of us as we continue down our personal and collective paths.

In his documentary, Jason Smith shows us what this means to people all across the country.

Join the journey. Check out the trailer for the film right here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

NY1 News Spotlights Jon Krawczyk

NY1's Bobby Cuza visited Jon in Boonton, New Jersey the other day to get a glimpse of the final behind-the-scenes preparatory work - and brings his story to the world wide web! Check it out below.

Also, Dan Brekke of Indy Metal Etching offers his personal account of our visit to Elkhart, Indiana here. Dan is leading the Book of Names project, a moving and poignant addition to the cross memorializing each of the 2,997 people who were lost on September 11th.
Jon has his sights set on July 14th as a take-off date for the penultimate phase of the journey. For ten days the cross will travel down the eastern seaboard to make a return to Washington, DC before heading north again, possibly reaching as far as Boston but we all know well by now the possibility of the road tossing us a surprise or two.

We plan to be in New York on July 23rd, when the original I-beam cross from the WTC rubble will be moved from St. Peter's Church back to ground zero and the site of the coming September 11th Museum and Memorial. The installation and unveiling of Jon's cross is slated for 6pm on August 11th - keep a close watch on this and get yourself and everyone around you down to St. Peter's on Barclay & Church Streets to witness this very special event and meet the artist behind the journey.

And now... Check out Jon's appearance on NY1 right here!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In The Interim

Installation of the Cross in New York City is still a few weeks away (rumor has it July 23rd has been targeted and penciled in), but preparations for this final leg of the journey continue across three continents.

Jason Smith, Director & Executive Producer of the yet-to-be-named documentary of the pilgrimage, has been slicing and splicing away in England, editing the hours upon hours of film from the first weeks of the journey. The task is daunting for all the fantastic people we've met and all the beautiful places we've seen; across the pond and over on the far side of the continent Claire Dallison of Los Angeles has been busy pitching in, adding her editing expertise to the mix. Jason is also plying his extensive professional network, lining up a few surprises for the days leading up to the installation - stay tuned to see what he pulls out of his, camera bag.

Meanwhile Jon is sweating it out in Boonton, New Jersey, working the cross into its final form and shimmer. He also reports an extremely fortuitous encounter: Les Dunham, aka the Master Car Builder, recently met with Jon to add his metal working expertise to the project. Mr. Dunham built the "Corvorado", the car used in the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die", as well as the additional car culture icons featured here. 'He gave me some secrets that have made all the difference,' Jon says. 'His help has been instrumental' during these final stages of preparation.

Finally, yours truly is back in Fukushima, Japan trying to keep abreast of developments both at home and abroad while working on moving the family to the States. For all of us, life as of late has been quite an adventure.

Be sure to check out the latest newspaper and online articles in the 'In The News' section of this blog, and if you haven't yet done so, please let your friends know about Jon and the Journey - both in the stories related here and in the photos on the St. Peter 9-11 Cross facebook page. And keep checking back for news on the installation, sure to be an emotional, historical, incredible event.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

To the Places Where Things Changed Forever

The Somerset Milling Company building, white and clean and standing proud along Stoystown Road, seems decades removed from the Pennsylvania Toll Pike. Further down, past the Somerset County Airport, through the sleepy town of Friedens and toward Indian Lake the gentility of yesteryear plays hide and seek with passersby. A white trailer stands in the tall grass, ‘Funnel Cakes’ in red carnival script across the side. A small hand-painted sign pokes out of the weeds around a bend: Maple Syrup. Rivers amble free of concrete diversion. Signs of innocent times persist all the way to Shanksville and the crash site of United Flight 93.
In the beginning there were no fences, no signs, no information pamphlets. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Memorializing the Past, Mulling Over the Future

At St. Thomas the Apostle School
‘Some guy gave me this business card at some trade show,’ Jon said, holding the small rectangle of gold metal up to the light. ‘I didn’t think I’d ever need it but for some reason I held onto it.’

Three years later Jon dug it out of a drawer and called the number etched in the corner.
In addition to the cross, Jon’s memorial sculpture will include a Book of Names, stainless steel pages etched with an alphabetical list of the 2,997 people lost on September 11th. This book will be attached to the base on which the cross will soon stand. It is being made in Elkhart, Indiana.
We said our journey was evolving; this was just a gentler way of saying we couldn’t stick to a schedule if our very lives depended on it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Life of the Journey

Hawthorne Community Center
The Shell gas station in Dickson, Tennessee probably wouldn't stand out in anyone's memories of a drive across the country. Neither would the adjacent 'Sudden Service' quickie mart (unless of course you happen to notice the walk-in cooler in the back, glass door luring you in with its decal letter message: Welcome to the Beer Cave). Few if any of the dozens of highway interchange stops we'd made would end up being burnished into memory, really, except for one thing: the people we met.

Roberta, one of the Sudden Service clerks, kept the line of customers inside waiting as she lingered outside next to the truck. 'I"m serious, you guys...this is amazing...' Her Boston accent dripped with sincere emotion and morning humidity. 'How absolutely beautiful...' She dropped a note in and stood still for a moment before climbing back down off the truck. 'Well this is an honor...being a part of this...' She might have remained there on the oily cement all day if her eyes hadn't started tearing up. 'You guys...take care of yourselves...'

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Neighbors, Those Around Us

Willie Mitchell Blvd., South Memphis
 Morgan Parks was shuttling boxes of coffee and non-dairy creamer from his van to the office of our latest Motel 6; he stopped in his tracks when he noticed the ‘big hunk of metal’ on the back of our truck. 'I figured there had to be a story behind that thing,' he mused after hearing...well, the story behind that thing. Morgan, coincidentally, was recently in Bethlehem on business and had stopped by Shanksville and the crash site of Flight 93. ‘You’ll be amazed the plane landed there and didn’t kill anyone,’ he said, noting that though scattered there are houses all throughout the area. Then came the highlight, the surprise that reminded us once again that, cliche as it sounds, you never know who you might meet in any given moment. Morgan, it turned out, was friends with a guy named Jim Sykes who had a radio show on an all-elvis station airing right across the street from Graceland. He gave us a phone number and some free coffee and was on his busy way.

The sun was high and hot when we pulled up to Heartsong Church in Cordova.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Along the Roads We Travel

Pierre, Jon & Daren
Our hopes were high as we headed north out of New Orleans, crossing the waters of lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain. Today’s road would lead to Memphis, 400 miles up the Mississippi River, a short enough trip to allow for a sojourn along Route 51 instead of spending the day on the Interstate. Images of small unvisited towns - humble environments and electric communities - filled our imaginations.

Route 51, we would soon learn, is lined with lots of forest and farm and not much else. It’s a beautiful drive, from Vicksburg to Clarksdale (the flooding around Redwood and Long Lake notwithstanding). Sadly the bits of life we saw resembled more of life that once was – closed businesses, gutted-out school buildings, collapsed barns and homes wearing nothing but the signs of destitution. Lending contrast were well-tended farm houses floating in wide, neat fields and the occasional shined-up Subway shop.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Strength of a Community

Many of the homes surrounding Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in the St. Roch district of New Orleans were damaged when Katrina blew through in 2005. Some of them, and countless more all over the city, sit abandoned to this day, their windows boarded up, dates spray-painted on the front door or the porch wall marking the last time anyone set foot inside. The school next to the church still has not reopened.

All of this stood in stark contrast to the people drifting in from all directions.

As we pulled up we were greeted by a man named Emmanuel, dressed sharp right up to his Kangol cap. Moments later Choir Director Richard Cheri emerged from the golden double doors of the church; his wife Cynthia, a choir member, would appear beside him out of nowhere. They all thanked us, graciously and enthusiastically, for coming to their parish. Only a few minutes in we already knew the pleasure would be all ours.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mexican and Another Motel 6

About 20 miles south of Alexandria, Louisiana Route 71 narrows to two-lanes. This, we hoped, would be where things would become interesting. The plan had been to get on the road early so we could explore the lesser byways all the way down to the Big Easy; what we hadn’t counted on was our search for a motel room turning into Jason’s quest for the golden fleece. Who knew Shreveport was such a popular Memorial Day Weekend destination?

By now we knew what the journey was about: offering ourselves to the whims of the road and taking whatever that gave us. So when we heard the music – ‘Check it out,’ Jon said, pointing at the four-man band on a flatbed trailer parked in an empty paved lot – we knew it was time to pull over.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Losing and Finding Our Way

Coalgate, OK Police & Fire Dept.
Journeys are not planned. Journeys don’t follow schedules. Discovery is not a matter of knowing where to go. And road maps? Well, they do help.

I-40 East turned out to be I-35 North – which led to 33 East, which introduced us to 99 South before we met up, finally, with 3 Sort-of-Southeast – and in the long run things could not have gone better.

It was half past lunch when we found the road narrowing to accommodate the Anytown, USA intimacy of Coalgate, Oklahoma. The diner still advertised on the billboard at the edge of town turned out to be nothing more than a slab of concrete on the way to being consumed by weeds and time, but it only took a minute for Leona, our waitress at the Ole Coaly CafĂ©, to make us feel at home. ‘This place used to be a bank, built sometime in the 1800’s,’ she said. ‘That room back there was the vault.’

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Carrying On From Oklahoma City

Jon with Hans Butzer
Oklahoma City, at least on this Thursday morning, seemed to be on vacation. Aside from the scattered construction crews jackhammering and refacing the sidewalks and the city streets there were precious few people walking around. We circled the refurbished downtown area, making turn after right turn until we pulled onto Mickey Mantle Avenue and parked outside the baseball stadium.

The will call windows were open; people of all ages were milling around, many wearing college colors and paraphernalia. A large group of Texas A&M fans walked up – two families, one with their son who would take the mound later that day. ‘Gig ‘em Aggies!’ they shouted as they posed proudly in front of this modest piece of history no one ever expects to see but manages to touch virtually everyone in some way. George Rooks was retired US Air Force, downtown that morning to draw some sketches of the canal - a hobby of his and quite a talent to boot. ‘No one will ever forget that day,’ he said, shaking his head and clutching his sketch book in one hand.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Past and Present in Oklahoma

John and Claire Martinez were waiting for their car to get fixed at the Brake Masters car care center next to the Motel 6 in Santa Fe. We were tossing our bags in the truck, ready to hit the road for Oklahoma City when they approached.

‘I think of that padre,’ Claire said. ‘Went in right along with those firemen to help…he didn’t make it either…’ Originally from Massachusetts, Claire had family in New Jersey. She said she had more to say but didn’t think she could; with a little gentle prodding from Jon she continued, running a finger under her watering eyes. ‘I was watching it on TV, watching those buildings burn, and the woman next to me said What’s that? I looked closer, and that was then I noticed those people

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New York to China in Santa Fe

May God always be with those who suffered. God bless the USA.

These were the words Larry Slavin of Aztec, Arizona wrote on a piece of paper at the FINA gas station at the edge of Farmington, New Mexico. These are the words, this is the sentiment echoed by the salt-of-the-earth people we’ve met at every turn.

As Mr. Slavin was slipping his message into the side of the cross Chris Cliff came up to speak with us. ‘I was on my way into town when you guys passed me. I had to turn around and talk to you guys.’ Chris was involved with an organization called 9:9 Ministries, a group that puts on productions of Christ’s Passion in various countries around the world; before Jon had finished explaining what his project was all about Chris was on the phone with his colleagues telling them ‘You gotta see this!’

Monday, May 23, 2011

Common Ground in a Beautiful Place

The men and women at the Grand Canyon Fire Department came from all over. Dave Van Inwagen, who was gracious enough to allow us to stop by ‘whenever you can get here,’ came from Maine via New York and California. Donna was from New Hampshire; Kyle came from Seattle; Paul grew up in Los Angeles, not far from Culver City. They’d moved around too, some of them having worked at five, six, seven National Parks. Paul summed up everyone’s response to the events of 9/11 in a single word: traumatic.

In the parking lot near the Grand Canyon Visitor Center some of a large group of Americans of Asian Indian descent came over to ask ‘what is this for’? Jon, in an explanation he’s already given countless times but continues to do so with sincerity and humility, explained that this cross to him was a symbol for all people, all races, all backgrounds and religions. ‘How does this represent all religions?’ asked a young Hindu man named Malind.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Culver City, Convenience Stores & Vegas

A Message for Those we Lost
We pulled out Sunday morning without fanfare. No lights flashing, no fire engines blowing their horns; just a few guys heading down the PCH with a 14-foot cross on the back of the truck. Traffic was light. The mist hung low and thick over the coast. Our goal for the day was the Grand Canyon, but our first stop would be Culver City.
Jon’s friend and neighbor Bill Young, a firefighter for the Culver City Fire Department, had invited us to come by Station 3 on our way out of town. There’s no telling what we’ll encounter between the coasts, but as we pulled up we could easily imagine this would prove to be as intimate a gathering as we’d find. Six firemen greeted us, pulling their engines out to serve as a proud backdrop for a modest moment of remembrance. Two bypassers paused with their dog. Jon’s words of thanks and humility could be heard from the other side of four-lane Bristol Parkway.
‘For Captain Steve Rankin,’ said Bill, rolling up a blue uniform shirt and sliding it into the hole in the cross’s side. ‘And for Firefighter Chuck Baird. Rest in peace, gentlemen.’ Captain Young would later touch on Captain Rankin’s line of duty death as well as Mr. Baird’s early passing, these two Culver City tragedies coming just in the last two years.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Presentation at View Point School in Calabasas, CA

Dr. Bob Dworkoski spoke quietly, eyes taking everything in. ‘It’s hard to put into words. This is just a moving, powerful experience.’ The Headmaster of View Point School went on to explain that he ‘didn’t know how having this sculpture come to campus would work out.’ Watching his students reaching into a box of paper and pens, writing down their thoughts and climbing a stepladder to slip their notes into the heart of the cross it was clear that the message – some message – had gotten through.
What does 9/11 mean to someone who was five years old at the time? To someone who was too young to have any memory of that day? To someone who didn’t even exist ten years ago, and only knows of a place called New York from TV?
The kids came in waves, one and two classes at a time. They came to see, out of pointed interest or simple curiosity, this cross sculpture thing their teachers had told them about. ‘Imagine this huge building crashing down,’ Jon said, painting a picture for the students as they stood in a half circle around him. ‘And then think about these firemen running into the building right next to that, risking their lives to go try to help save people they didn’t even know.’

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Local Sculptor Creates 9/11 Cross, Takes it to New York

By Paul Sisolak / Special to the Malibu Times
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 2:27 PM PDT
Jon Krawczyk is a man on a mission to commemorate the victims of 9/11. The Malibu sculptor departed Malibu Wednesday morning, driving an open flatbed truck, carrying a 14-foot steel cross that will make its way to a New York City cathedral next week.

Krawczyk's journey is taking him to several points across the country, with Ground Zero the destination, where his creation, which the artist welded from fragments obtained from the World Trade Center rubble, will hang outside St. Peter's Church.

Read More HERE.

Viewing at Malibu Bluffs Park & Official Unveiling at Leslie Sacks Fine Art

On Tuesday May 17th Jon Krawczyk brought his Cross to Malibu Bluffs Park. We were met by members of LA County Fire Department's Squad 88, who helped us carry the cross from the truck to a field overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This in itself was an amazing moment, imbued with significance and laced with emotion. A crowd of people had also gathered, eagerly anticipating their first view of the St. Peter 9-11 Cross; bypassers too found themselves drawn in by both the magic of the Cross and their own curiosity.
All hands were on the Cross as we raised it up against a backdrop of marbled sky and misty sea. Father William Kerzy of Our Lady of Malibu Catholic Church conferred a blessing on the Cross, praying for the peace that all of us seek; Jon Krawczyk followed with his own heartfelt words of what this Cross and this Journey mean to him.

The Catholic Business Journal Spotlights the Journey

9-11 Memorial Cross Forged Of Stainless Steel Makes Its Way Across The Nation
 by Mark McElrath

The cross is a symbol of hope. It speaks of life’s journey and to life’s limitless potential. For the innocent, whose lives were taken from them, this cross stands as a memorial. For the courageous, who faced death so others might live, this cross stands as a tribute. For all of us, walking the streets today, this cross reflects who we are and who we may choose to become. —Sculptor, Jon Krawczyk
Out of the rubble of New York City's Twin Towers on that fateful 9-11 morning emerged a symbol of hope: a perfectly proportioned cross formed from the steel girders of the previously standing towers. The rescue workers quickly understood what it was and, more importantly, recognized the deeper meaning it would come to symbolize—hope in the future after the most devastating attack on American soil in history.

This cross was moved to a prominent location above the smoldering pit and was draped in the American flag and as rescue efforts became recovery, the remains of victims were brought before this cross for a moment of prayer before being taken on to the makeshift morgue. This cross remained a point of prayer and refreshment for the workers who were tasked with their unfathomable responsibility. On it, they inscribed their names, wrote prayer petitions and reflections.

Later, the cross was relocated from the rubble to a pedestal at the corner of Liberty and Church streets. And later still, when reconstruction efforts required this space, the cross was moved to St. Peter’s church, which is directly across the street from Ground Zero, and placed on the Church Street side of the property, directly facing the site of the 9-11 attacks. Here it has stood since October 2006, until such time as its permanent home at the September 11th Memorial and Museum is prepared to accept it.  That time is quickly approaching...
Read More HERE at the CBJ.

Presentation at St. Maximilian's Catholic Church

On May 15th Jon Krawczyk presented his cross to the congregation at St. Maximilian Church in Malibu.
In an emotional speech Jon gave a glimpse into the journey across America that would soon be underway.
All present were moved, some to tears, by the significance of the cross and all this piece of work represents.
One woman in the crowd had just recently moved to Los Angeles from New York; she had lost more than 25 friends on September 11, and while she could hardly express in words her sadness and gratitude in the moment it was clear that this project holds immense power, and as we make our way towards New York City we hope many more people will see this as an opportunity to reflect, to remember, to think about the future we all face.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Official Press Release: St. Peter's 9-11 Cross

Artist Jon Krawczyk and 9/11 Memorial Cross
Begin Pilgrimage to St. Peter’s Catholic Church, N.Y.C.

Unveiling and Departure Wednesday, May 18, 8:00 AM

Los Angeles, CA – May 16, 2011 - Los Angeles sculptor Jon Krawczyk has completed fabrication of a fourteen foot tall stainless steel cross incorporating fragments of steel from the World Trade Center. These relics of 9/11 were provided by the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, presently under construction at the site of the World Trade Center. The base of the cross will serve as a podium for a stainless steel book, still in fabrication, whose pages will be engraved with the names of those who perished as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

Krawczyk’s 9/11 memorial will take the place of the cruciform I-beam girders found standing in the ruins of the World Trade Center, then moved to St. Peter’s Catholic Church near Ground Zero. St. Peter’s, the oldest Catholic church in New York, was damaged in the attacks of 9-11.

Krawczyk’s 9/11 Memorial Cross will be unveiled at Leslie Sacks Fine Art, 11640 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles (Brentwood) California 90049 at 8:00 AM on Wednesday, May 18th and depart for the East Coast immediately thereafter.

Krawczyk, accompanied by long time friend and author Kevin Kato, will shepherd the artist’s 9/11 Memorial Cross by open truck to Shanksville, Pennsylvania (the crash site of United Flight 93), and the Pentagon in Washington DC, stopping along the way in Santa Fe, Indianapolis, Memphis and Nashville before placing the cross in storage until the original Ground Zero girders cross, now standing at St. Peter’s, is moved later this year to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Artist’s statement: “When installed, the cross will be polished to a mirror finish so each and every onlooker will see himself or herself reflected in it, hopefully thinking about those who sacrificed before them, and then considering what their own sacrifice will be. But before they think, I want people to see the beauty first – the beauty of existence, the beauty of the cross, then remember the destruction and find a better way.”

Costs of the 9/11 Memorial Cross are underwritten by a group of anonymous donors, the artist and Leslie Sacks Fine Art. Jon Krawczyk is represented by Leslie Sacks Fine Art.