Friday, October 20, 2006

More Remains Found At WTC

A Con-Ed employee stumbled across more human remains in a man-hole that was damaged in the attacks. The area where the discovery was made is located within the pit, close to where the podium is set up for the anniversary ceremonies.

Not unexpectedly, victims' families are outraged:

The remains of Charles Wolf's wife, Katherine, 40, were never recovered. He said his wife, an employee of insurer Marsh & McLennan, perished on the 97th floor of the north tower.

"I am totally shocked that this was found in the pit," said Wolf, who showed up at the Chelsea Con Edison site after being contacted by television stations. "The fact that they were found in ground zero says there was some major, major shortfall in the recovery effort."

This is one of those "very thin line" issues. Obviously the surviving family members have every right to expect that every last effort was made to recover the remains of their loved ones. But at the same time, given the scale of destruction, one has to realize that not everyone will be found. The fact that remains are still being discovered 5 years after the fact, while disturbing, is in all likelihood, unavoidable.

The recovery effort is being labeled by some family members as "cavalier". I don't think I could disagree more. Rescue workers spent 9 months doing all that was humanly possible to find as many as possible at what is now coming to light as a great risk to their own health. How long should they have continued to search without finding anything before deciding there's nothing left to find? How many tunnels, rooftops, and crevices should have be scoured for what could be the smallest, unrecognizable bone fragment?

I understand the overpowering need for closure for those 1,150 families who buried an empty casket. And I do in fact view Ground Zero as hallowed ground in that respect. It is the final resting place of 2,794 souls.

But those 16 acres have stood empty too long. A new, independently run search of the area will not solve anything. It will not find those 1,150 people. It will not ease any suffering.

It would only prolong the already grossly overdue rebuilding efforts. Five years later and this massive, gaping wound still stands as the only monument to the people that died that day. I didn't lose anyone that day, thankfully. But I can't imagine anyone would want their loved ones immortalized in a stagnant construction site.

I hate to say it, but it's time to move on.

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