On most jobs, scribbling a message on, say, a wall would be frowned upon. But for the 1,000 construction workers helping to erect the new One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, graffiti is actually encouraged.
"This is not just any construction site; this is a special place for these guys," said ironworker supervisor Kevin Murphy. The workers, he said, are "part of the redemption." The World Trade Center construction site has become a community mural of remembrance, solidarity and artistic expression -- not only for those working on the rebuilding but for those witnessing it too.
"G-d bless those who perished. G-d Bless those who rebuild," a woman named Peggy Hinkle wrote on scaffolding being used in the construction.
Her message has been echoed on the building's girders and beams by a cast of high-profile visitors to the site, including Michael Chertoff, who served as the country's second secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009. Even President Barack Obama has joined in, scrawling: "We remember. We rebuild. We come back stronger!"
The construction of the new One World Trade Center is scheduled to be completed this year. It's designed to reach 104 stories and stand at the patriotic height of 1,776 feet, making the skyscraper the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. But the 2,700 people who died at the center's original towers during their destruction in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, seem to be most on the minds of those working on the construction.
But in the 11 years since the attacks on the twin towers, Ground Zero has been the site of the usual kind of graffiti, too: sports team logos drawn alongside R.I.P. messages to 9/11's victims.
Also cause for concern has been the placement of graffiti on the memorial site itself, as opposed to the girders. Last summer, the message "Allah Wakbar" (which means "Allah is the greatest") was found on a marker on a granite seal there, which prompted an investigation by the NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force.
A power washer removed that tag. But a similar fate eventually awaits the graffiti as scaffolding is removed and the building's skeleton is covered before One World Trade Center opens its 3 million square feet of office space to tenants in 2014.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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