Remains of unidentified victims moved to Sept. 11 memorial
Families of Sept. 11 victims gathered Saturday morning beneath mist-shrouded skyscrapers to watch as the unidentified remains of people killed there nearly 13 years ago were moved to what may be their final resting place.
The New York Times
NEW YORK — On the granite plaza of the World Trade Center memorial, families of Sept. 11 victims gathered Saturday morning beneath mist-shrouded skyscrapers to watch as the unidentified remains of people killed there nearly 13 years ago were moved to what may be their final resting place.
A slow-moving procession transferred the remains on their short journey across from a city medical examiner’s office to a specially built repository at Ground Zero.
In what the mayor’s office called “a ceremonial transfer,” the convoy arrived at the site at 7 a.m. carrying three coffin-size metal military transfer cases, one borne by a New York Police Department vehicle, another on a Fire Department truck and the third by a Port Authority Police Emergency Service Unit.
After they passed by a Fire Department honor guard, uniformed bearers stepped up to each flag-draped case and carried it through the swamp white oak trees on the memorial plaza and into the medical examiner’s repository, which is in the same building as the soon-to-open National September 11 Memorial Museum, but is separated from it by a wall.
A few dozen families attended.
Some families, who do not want the remains stored at Ground Zero, wore black gags over their mouths to protest what they said was a lack of consultation about the decision to remove the remains to what is likely to be a major tourist attraction.
City officials have said that the entire repository area would be closed to the public.
Alexander Santora, 77, a retired deputy chief in the Fire Department, was among those who wore a gag. “We had no say in what was going on here,” said Santora, whose son Christopher, 23, a probationary firefighter, was killed in the attacks. “You can’t tell me that tour guides aren’t going to be going inside that building and saying, ‘Behind that wall are the victims of 9/11.’ That’s a dog and pony show.”
But other families supported the decision, and were critical of the protesters.
“I thought it was just ridiculous; everyone is too political over this,” said Lisa Vukaj, 34, as she left the plaza wearing a badge bearing a photo of her brother Simon Marash Dedvukaj, who was killed.
The remains will stay under the medical examiner office’s jurisdiction, and identification work will be done off-site at its DNA laboratory. That identification work continues. Of the 2,753 people reported missing at the World Trade Center after the 2001 attacks, 1,115 victims remain unidentified.