July 2007

On page 52 in this issue is a story that has nothing to do with highways and public works.

It takes place in Louisiana, a state where, for more than 200 years, residents there greeted most things New York with a snicker, followed by an uttered “those damn Yankees,” as if those three words could size up a cultural divide wider than the geographical distance between them

Not now. Not since 9/11. In Avondale, La., ship builders are working on a very special vessel – the USS New York. While much of the recovered WTC steel has been reused for various purposes, one I-beam was set aside to be recast for a new Navy ship’s bow stem.

Northrop Grumman Ship Systems workers in Avondale are strengthening the nation’s defense in more ways than by just adding a ship to the Navy’s fleet. They’re also forging ties with their New York brothers and sisters. During our interviews with them for this story a sentiment echoed by all were the emotional connections they now feel they have by simply working with the WTC steel.

They remember 9/11 – now almost six years ago – as vividly as their more recent memories of Katrina’s destruction in their state. They feel a kindred spirit with New Yorkers. Maybe they’ve always felt that as people living in the same country, but after experiencing Katrina and now touching the steel that once was the WTC, they feel it more as Americans.

And the feeling is mutual between Louisiana and New York. This, more than any ship, contributes to the nation’s defense and brings everyone together irrespective of cultural divides and mileage between them.

Hope you enjoy the article, and I hope you had a happy, safe and fun Fourth. P

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