When sculptor and Morris County native Jon Krawczyk came home this week, he did not come alone.
Kevin Kato and Jason Smith, respectively a writer and film director, joined Krawczyk on his cross-country road trip from his Malibu, Calif., studio to New York City. They joined him because of a very special piece of art that Krawczyk had in tow.
Krawczyk, who grew up in Boonton, was commissioned to create a 9-11 Memorial Cross for St. Peter's Church in New York City, which faces the site of the World Trade Center and was damaged in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Two steel beams forming a cross were found amid the wreckage of the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks. Named the World Trade Center Cross or the Ground Zero Cross, it was placed at St. Peter's in 2006. On Aug. 11, it will be moved to the World Trade Center Museum. Krawczyk's 14-foot-tall creation, which incorporates material from the Twin Towers, will take its place.
Krawczyk, Kato and Smith have traveled, in their estimation, 5,000 miles in 18 days to bring the cross from California to New York. They have stopped at 9-11 memorials throughout the country to talk to people who were touched by the events of that day.
Smith, along with a film crew, is collecting interviews from the people they meet along the way for a documentary called "Cross Country." Kevin Kato is maintaining a blog about the journey and plans to write a book. "We filmed a girl who lost 66 friends in the attacks," Smith said. "So many stories ... it really is limitless."
On Wednesday, the trio brought the 9-11 Memorial Cross, tethered to Kraczyk's pick-up truck, to Memorial Park in Chatham Borough to speak with Dan Smith, Jr. (no relation to Jason), the volunteer firefighter in Chatham Borough who designed and built the Sept. 11 Memorial, and with Donna Cali-Charles, who heads the 9-11 Memorial Committee.
In his interview for the documentary, Smith said that the memorial in Chatham Borough was "a great community project" with many hands making it possible.
Smith, a union metal worker, recalled working in Jersey City when World Trade Center was attacked. "I didn't see the first plane hit, but I saw the second," he said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think that they would come down."
The 9-11 Memorial Cross has a small hole designed under the left arm of the cross for people to place messages for those who died. Smith wrote a brief note to the 13 Chatham residents who died in the attacks, read it aloud and climbed into the bed of Kraczyk's truck to place it inside.
Donna Cali-Charles brought a program from the dedication ceremony of the 9-11 Memorial in 2008 to place inside the cross. She held Smith's hand as he climbed inside to put it in the cross.
Smith said he reached out to the families of the 13 victims from Chatham, but none wished to be involved in the project.
Chatham Township resident Denise Goldfield helped Kato, Smith and Kraczwyk reach out to local Chatham contacts.