Share This Page

Plan for 9/11 remains enrages kin

| Thursday, May 8, 2014, 9:15 p.m.

NEW YORK — A group of Sept. 11 family members vowed on Thursday to protest when the unidentified remains of those killed at the World Trade Center are moved to a repository at the site this weekend.

The relatives said that the plan to house the remains underground in the same building as the National September 11 Memorial Museum is disrespectful and that they would rather see the remains entombed above ground on the adjacent memorial plaza.

“Let us have a voice! Let us have a say!” said retired firefighter Jim Riches, who lost his son, also a firefighter, in the 2001 terrorist attacks. “We are outraged, and we will never rest until our loved ones, America's heroes, rest in peace.”

Sally Regenhard, who lost her firefighter son at the World Trade Center, said the family members dread the opening of the museum on May 21.

“It's a day of sadness and a day of outrage,” she said.

Not all family members agree. Other victims' families have been forthcoming about their support of the plan, saying the repository is a fitting site for the remains.

The unidentified remains will be moved on Saturday from the medical examiner's office on Manhattan's East Side to the memorial site in lower Manhattan.

City officials say that once there, the remains will be placed in a custom-designed repository at bedrock level in the same building as the museum. The remains will be moved in a solemn procession led by police and fire department vehicles.

The repository will be overseen by the medical examiner with hopes that improvements in technology could help identify the 7,930 body parts.

City officials have said that family members were consulted about the plan, but the opponents say all relatives should have been polled.

“The city won't do a survey because they know we're right, that the majority of family members would say no,” said Norman Siegel, a civil rights lawyer who is representing family members opposed to the city's plans.

Phil Walzak, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said de Blasio's administration “has engaged the community of 9/11 families continuously since entering office four months ago. This includes talking with and listening to families who have questions about this plan — as well as many families who are supportive and comfortable with this plan.”

The remains transfer plan was put into motion in a memorandum of understanding completed on Dec. 31, the final day of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration. The memorandum, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, detailed the process by which the families would be told and called for the transfer to be done without public notification.

The de Blasio administration decided to change plans and announce the transfer publicly.

Forty-one percent of the 2,753 people reported missing at the World Trade Center have not been identified.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.