Families Fight Plans to Entomb 9/11 Remains at Memorial
By Gabriela Resto-Montero
DOWNTOWN — The families of 9/11 victims whose remains have yet to be identified called for officials to scrap plans to entomb them at the National September 11 Memorial.
Roughly 41 percent of the remains of 9/11 victims are still unidentified.
Memorial developers plan to keep them 70 feet below ground, entombed behind a granite wall emblazoned with the Virgil quote: "No day shall erase you from the memory of time."
But some family members of victims said keeping the remains at a museum as an attraction for the public is disrespectful.
"For me personally, having human remains in a museum is just an obscene thing to even conceive of," said Maureen Santora, whose son, Christopher Santora, had been serving with the FDNY for just two months when he died on 9/11.
"If you have human remains that you know are not going to be identified, then have them interred in a mausoleum."
Santora was among dozens at a press conference near Ground Zero Sunday to call for the plans to be dropped.
Many relatives want the city to build an above ground commemorative tomb, like the grave of the unknown soldier in Arlington, Va., said Sally Regenhard, whose son Christian Regenhard died on 9/11.
"On 9/11 I could not save my son," Regenhard said. "This is the last battle that I will be able to wage on behalf of my son."
Regenhard and others said they only found out about the burial plans at a 2009 Downtown Alliance meeting and urged the city to send letters notifying all 9/11 families about the plans.
Should the city not consult with the families and take their wishes into consideration, Norman Siegel, a lawyer for some of the families, said that they would seek legal recourse.
For their part, representatives with the museum said that the remains will not be on display and that the space would be managed by the Medical Examiner's office.
In addition, the museum also plans a private family room adjacent to the repository where relatives can reflect in privacy.
The remains will be periodically tested by the Medical Examiner to continue attempts to identify them.