The many Irish helping One World Trade Center reach new heights in New York City
Meeting the Irish -- and my family -- on the sacred site of the World Trade Center and Tower 4
In many ways, the Irish working at the One World Trade Center today can parallel the Irish helping to build New York City over a century ago.
Rebuilding the World Trade Center is a massively symbolic act, a gesture of defiance in the face of al-Qaeda and those who gave us the worst days of our lives on September 11 and in its aftermath.
I am very proud to have a brother and father involved in the reconstruction of what many Americans consider a sacred site.
Out of the ashes of the WTC has come a new series of buildings; bigger, better, a defiant symbol in the sky of American determination to move on from the shattered past and create a brighter future.
Now just over ten years since tragedy struck on September 11th, lower Manhattan is being reshaped as the new World Trade Center rises into the skyline. Among the hundreds of construction workers lending their skills to help raise the several new buildings, many are Irish and of Irish American descent.
I’m proud to say I have two close connections to the construction of the new World Trade Center. My father, John O’Shea, a foreman with Eurotech Construction and member of the Local Carpenters Union 157, and my brother Patrick, a fourth year apprentice with the NYC District Council Carpenters, are both employed down at Tower Four at the site.
My dad, an immigrant to New Jersey from Kenmare in Co Kerry, is nearly as proud as being a Kerryman as he is as being an official American, getting his citizenship here just prior to 9/11.
Going down to Church and Liberty streets for the first time since I was a child, which was prior to the events of 9/11, was truly an experience. Coming up from the subway, Tower 4 rears up demanding your attention, though most of the workers mulling around the streets are understandably unfazed by the magnitude of the new sites.
My dad later says how the sights from the top of the building don’t impress him as much anymore as they’re an everyday occurrence. But, he knows what the buildings mean to millions of Americans.
My father has taken up a new hobby of sharing photos taken from his phone to show the progress of Tower Four from the inside. From the top of the new building, he was able to look down on the moment of silence on 9/11/11, the crowds gathering at Zuccotti Park for Occupy Wall Street and most recently, snap a shot of when the Freedom Tower officially became the tallest building in New York City.
Right now, Tower Four is the second tallest of the buildings under construction at World Trade Center. However, it will ultimately be the shortest of the collection of new buildings once construction is fully complete.
I had my dad gather up a few other Irish and Irish Americans who work down at the site for a photo opportunity. One of the first things I noticed? The green shamrock stickers on their white hard hats.
You could probabaly gather a similar bunch of workers on any city construction site, the Empire State Building, or the Chrysler in its time, and get the same group of familiar Irishmen, determined to help New York rise to the top.
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