9/11 widow: Husband would be proud to be part of memorial

JoAnn Cross displays a portrait of her late

JoAnn Cross displays a portrait of her late husband, firefighter Dennis Cross, who lost his life on 9/11, at her home in Islip Terrace. (Credit: Photo by John Dunn)

At long last, two huge reflecting pools are coming into being within the footprints of the fallen Twin Towers.

And one day, not so long from now, the names of the victims of Sept. 11, 2001, and the terror bombing of Feb. 26, 1993, will be inscribed on a series of raised bronze panels around the rims of the pools.

The name of Dennis Cross of Islip Terrace, battalion chief of Battalion 57 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, will be among them, along with those of 342 other members of the Fire Department of New York City who perished in 2001. Cross was 60 when he was killed.

Honored by recognition

The tribute at the World Trade Center site is one that Cross, an FDNY veteran of nearly four decades who cherished firehouse camaraderie, would find fitting, said his widow, JoAnn Cross, 65.

"He was pretty modest and he didn't like bringing attention to himself, but in this instance, he'd be very proud," she said in a recent interview from her Islip Terrace home.

Cross, whose body was recovered at Ground Zero a week after the attacks, was posthumously promoted to deputy chief.

As part of the national memorial, the names of 2,981 people killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the six victims of the 1993 terror bombing will be inscribed on panels surrounding the two identical reflecting pools. The names of at least 453 Long Islanders will be among them.

As with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala., visitors to the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum will be able to touch the names. At the Sept. 11 memorial, some may opt to make a rubbing as a keepsake.

A year ago, the space for the memorial pools was two large voids. Now, with the borders of the pools taking shape, the site "can no longer be called a pit," said Joe Daniels, president of the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. "It is filled with steel and concrete, and we are going to open on the 10th anniversary."

What is known as the North Pool is virtually complete; the South Pool's four sides are under construction. Both are scheduled to be finished in 2011 in time for the 10th anniversary of the attacks - when the memorial plaza will be opened for the first time to the families of Sept. 11 victims.

Twice an honoree

"No one thought this would be possible just one year ago," said Chris Ward, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the 16-acre trade center site.

The name of Cross will be in more than one place at the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. It also is on the "Last Column," the huge steel column that was part of the South Tower and will be part of the museum's permanent exhibit.

Tributes to Sept. 11 first responders were spray-painted on the 58-ton, 36-foot-tall column after it was recovered from Ground Zero in 2001. Cross' name runs across the bottom. The column, which was stored for years in a hangar at Kennedy Airport, was returned to the site Aug. 24.

JoAnn Cross finds comfort that her husband will be remembered in these tangible tributes.

"There's no better way to spend the rest of eternity than to be a part of history," she said.

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