Legislation gives hope for new Sept. 11 resting place for the unidentified

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:49

    ALBANY-Until now, the final resting place for many of the people who died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 has been the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island. State Sen. Thomas P. Morahan has sponsored legislation that aims at giving families a proper site to mourn their loved ones. "Step A is to get the ashes removed," said Morahan, a Republican from Rockland County whose district also includes Tuxedo and Warwick in Orange County. "Step B will be to determine where they should go." Morahan sponsored similar legislation last year after meeting with Rockland County members of World Trade Center Families for Proper Burial. The families want to have the opportunity to visit and pray for their loved ones without having to make appointments with New York City's Department of Sanitation and without having to drive past garbage trucks. Morahan's latest effort passed the Senate last week on a 42-10 vote. "This ash should be protected and eventually transported to another suitable site to be determined by the governors of New York and New Jersey, to become a part of a memorial that will be built at that location," the bill reads. Since the attack, forensic scientists have identified the remains of nearly 1,600 of the dead, leaving more than 1,100 of the victims unidentified. Out of nearly 2,800 victims, fewer than 300 whole bodies were recovered. Nearly 20,000 pieces of bodies were found in the ruins — more than 6,000 small enough to fit in five-inch test tubes. The most matched to one person exceeded 200. More than 800 victims were identified by DNA alone. These families have no place to mourn, pray or reflect. It is either Ground Zero or the Staten Island dump. "We really felt they did everything they could," said Diane Horning, whose 26-year-old son Matthew was killed. Four pieces of her son were identified, the first, shortly after the attack, and the last just recently. "I kind of pretend it didn't happen," said Maureen Shay of Staten Island, who lost her son, Robert. "Something was found, I don't know what it is, I don't want to know what it is. I prefer to think of him as whole someplace," Shay told the Associated Press. Laura Walker of Airmont, Rockland County, who lost her husband, Ben, in the terror attacks, began the localized effort to win support for removing the ashes from Fresh Kills, where families say the ashes lay with old tires and dirty baby diapers. Morahan said some people don't understand why the families won't let this drop. "It's an emotional thing," he told the NY Sun. "It's very hard to put your arms around it logically," But after meeting with families, he understands. "It's the concept that ‘my loved ones' ashes are in a landfill' that's so painful," he said. "Is it going to be a perfect resolution?" he added. "They lost someone they love. There's no changing that. But we're going to do what we can."