Don’t throw away the dead

When people die, loved ones cherish everything that was connected to them. For the families and friends of 1,100 of the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 tragedy there is little closure. The remains of these victims have not been found.

On Oct. 4, the Supreme Court rejected the pleas of the families of 9/11 victims who claimed that 223,000 tons of scrap material and debris from Ground Zero hadn’t been properly searched for human remains. They were suing the city, who continues to claim that they have carefully sifted through the 1.65 million tons of debris for human remains and belongings before sending it to a Staten Island landfill.

I sympathize with the families. The case should have been reconsidered by the court. These families want to honor their loved ones. They are simply trying to make sure that those who died are not discarded like garbage. They want to be 100 percent certain that nothing disgraces those who died that day. If I had family or friends whose remains hadn’t been found, I would desperately want every ounce of debris searched for their ashes or anything that was theirs.

The powerful sentiments that 9/11 carries accentuates these feelings. It was the most tragic day in American history and we have done our best to move on as a country. But moving on doesn’t mean forgetting. It doesn’t mean discarding that day’s mementos and dumping them in a landfill.

At the very least, they can be preserved in some way so that, years from now, people can look at the remains and remember that day, that moment, those people, and remember that freedom from fear is a precious commodity and should be fought for to the death.

The heart-breaking tragedy has been done. The Towers are gone and nearly 3,000 innocent people are dead. But if there was even a slight doubt that what was left behind still contains something human, we have a duty to honor their deaths as well as their lives. Isn’t it the least that can be done for those who died that day?

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