As Congress returns from its monthlong recess Tuesday, one of the first orders of business for a New York lawmaker will be to submit legislation seeking to establish the cross recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center (WTC) as a national monument.
With the legislation titled the "9/11 Memorial Cross National Monument Establishment Act of 2011," Rep. Michael G. Grimm hopes to convince his fellow legislators to approve the bill.
“This cross was a symbol of hope and freedom at a time when New Yorkers were coping with loss and destruction in the aftermath of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil,” Grimm said.
The cross, enshrined at the National September 11 Museum & Memorial in downtown Manhattan on July 23, has been at the center of a legal battle after an atheist group filed a lawsuit to prevent its inclusion at the museum.
“I find it reprehensible that this group would disgrace the beliefs of millions of people in an effort to garner a little media attention for their cause," the Republican lawmaker said.
"He has a right to his opinion, but that doesn't make his opinion right," Jane Everhart, director of communications for New York City Atheists, told The Christian Post Tuesday, reacting to Grimm's remark.
In its lawsuit, filed in July, American Atheists, the parent organization of NYC Atheists, claims that no religious symbols should be included in the memorial of the 9/11 terror attacks at ground zero if the Christian cross is the only symbol being represented.
When asked for a comment in regard to Grimm's legislation to have the 9/11 cross be established as a national monument, Everhart laughed. "We think of this as a big piece of junk," she said of the cross.
The cross, two intersecting steel beams found during clean-up efforts at the site of the terrorist attacks in New York City, has long been seen as a symbol of hope and comfort for many New Yorkers.
Along with the cross, the National September 11 Museum & Memorial will also house a Star of David cut from WTC steel, a Bible fused to a piece of steel that was found during recovery efforts, and a Jewish prayer shawl.
"By establishing the 9/11 Memorial Cross as a national monument, we ensure this symbol of freedom continues to stand for all those we lost and those whose faith remains to this day," Grimm said.