The setting has changed, but the tribute remains the same.
A 20-ton slab of feldspar, hornblende and garnet stone originally donated by a Hauppauge rock company to be the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower will now be displayed in front of the company's building and rededicated Friday, the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"It was created for a big purpose," said Karen Pearse, chief executive for the company, Innovative Stone.
The words "to honor and to remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and as a tribute to the enduring spirit of freedom" were chiseled on top, although the inscription would not have been visible after construction began on top of the cornerstone, Pearse said.
Garnet is New York State's gemstone and this one originated in the Adirondack Mountains upstate, at the Barton Quarry.
The stone was laid into the pit at Ground Zero on July 4, 2004, but removed in 2006 as plans for the redevelopment changed and returned to Innovative Stone to hold until 2012.
Then, the Port Authority informed Pearse this year that the stone would not be used after all.
Still, to trash the project altogether seemed improper. Pearse said she would rather display it than keep it hidden in storage.
A special garden was built in front of the company's building at 130 Motor Pkwy., and a dedication ceremony is planned for 8 a.m. Friday with County Executive Steve Levy.
A crane operator donated time to move the stone from the back storage facility to the front lawn Tuesday, Pearse said. Dozens of other companies donated services and money to help set up the garden, and the stone's inscription will be prominently featured.
"The memorial garden was created for everyone to use. There's a beautiful circular area for everyone to gather and contemplate," Pearse said. "It will remain there indefinitely until we hear they might want it back at the site."
She hopes the Ground Zero developers will find a way to use it, Pearse said.
"I think it will be really embraced and honored [in Hauppauge], but ultimately we'd like it to be back at Ground Zero," Pearse said.