On this day 9/11 in 2001, two planes flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, tragically killing 2,977 innocent people, including 37 Greek Americans.
Today, 18 years later, the sad and emotional memories resurface for families and friends of the victims who unjustly lost their lives.
As the Twin Towers horrifically collapsed from the impact, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Manhattan was also buried. St. Nicholas was the only other building besides the Twin Towers completely destroyed during the 9/11 terrorist attack.
Saint Nicholas Church, which commenced services in 1922, was named after Agios Nikolaos, Patron Saint of Sailors, as it was the first stopping point for many Greek migrants after they left Ellis Island, the United States’ busiest migrant inspection station. For 85 years, the Saint Nicholas Church stood at 155 Cedar St, New York City, until the shocking terrorist attack occurred.
The only remains left were the damaged icon of Agios Dionysios of Zakynthos, the icon of Panagia, The Mother of God of the Life-giving Spring and a small handful of other religious items. The Church’s most valuable religious items, including the relics of Agios Nikolaos, Agia Ekaterini, and Agios Savvas, were never recovered after the attack.
After the 9/11 attacks, it was said that the Church would reopen as a national shrine. Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, the church’s new look is inspired by Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora, two Byzantine-era shrines in Constantinople.
Construction of the new Church was halted when the money ran out and according to reports, a lot of the funds donated for the construction of St. Nicholas Church was used to cover unrelated expenses.
America’s new Archbishop Elpidophoros recently stated that the rebuilding process of St. Nicholas Church at Ground Zero was “a matter of dignity and pride for Hellenism and Orthodoxy.”
The American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA) at their 97th Grand Banquet in Chicago a few months back donated $1 million dollars, which will now help rebuild Saint Nicholas.