Thousands of residents near Banker Steel in Lynchburg, VA convened at the steel factory where beams for Freedom Tower are being prepared. Governor Pataki and steelworkers were the first to write messages on and sign three beams that were painted white - then the beams were made available to the public yesterday. The AP reports that one woman, Diane Hall, who came with her grandson, said, "If anybody can do anything to let those people know that we care, then that's what we ought to do." The first batch of beams is being shipped to Ground Zero today.

Banker Steel provided 25,000 tons of steel to the original World Trade Center project; Freedom Tower will get about 3,000 tons from Banker Steel. The beams for Freedom Tower are an international affair: They were forged in Luxembourg, and Banker Steel is also reinforcing them with 6-inch plates from Germany.

Photographs of the September arrival of steel in Virginia by Joe Woolhead