By Timothy Harrison Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND,N.Y. — “We’re calling it the job of the century,” said Tommy Kelly, 33, of West Brighton, a steamfitter on the crew building One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.
He witnessed President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama sign their names on a steel beam that was lifted to the top of the 104-story building on Aug. 2. Kelly signed the beam, too.
Succinctly he wrote, “9-11-01 Tom Kelly,” a tribute to his father, Thomas W. Kelly, a firefighter, who died during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks along with a dozen others from Engine Co. 4/Ladder Co. 15. He was 51.
His son recalled the “tremendous sense of accomplishment” he felt at adding a personal memorial to a piece of the new tower.
“It brings great closure that I wouldn’t have had,” Kelly said.
He began work on the new building in October 2011 after applying for the position.
“I would like to be part of this,” he told a friend at the time.
Kelly recalled an evolution in his perception of the place where he works over the past year.
“At first it was [hard],” Kelly said. “When I would look out into the memorial — that’s where he is — I would just gaze.” His father’s remains were never retrieved from the debris. “Now I look down and it’s just — I feel pride.”
Kelly said his father worked as a steamfitter, too, helping to build the first World Trade Center, before becoming a firefighter.”My dad only had less than a year to retire from the FDNY, and he was going to go back full time into the steamfitting,” Kelly added.
Kelly, a shop steward’s partner, said he would continue to work at the Trade Center until the tower’s scheduled completion in early 2014.
“Every day when I go through that gate, I look up at the building and I feel a strong sense of pride.”