Bones are hardy and can testify throughout antiquity to the state of the person who earned those bones in their body. However, the dreams and wishes of others embedded in those bones are frail and fleeting because memory is convenient and, as humans, we run from pain instead of searching out suffering.
With the recent discovery of 74 more bone fragments mixed with gravel that had been shoveled to the sides of the roof of the former Deutsche Bank building in the ongoing open wound that is the World Trade Center disaster on 9/11, we are forced to reconcile the way we choose to memorialize people beyond bones and flesh. Deutsche Bank — the building below shrouded in black netting and holding the American flag — will be demolished floor-by-floor in June.
The 9/11 families who still do not have their dead identified were
especially upset with this recent discovery because all the memories
and pain come bubbling and bleeding to the surface of their
consciousness all over again:
Earlier this year,
workers in the building found four additional human body parts, and
they found 10 additional bone fragments on the roof last fall. In the
most recent discovery, workers retrieved 82 samples, 74 of which proved
to be human remains that will undergo DNA testing, Borakove said.
11 family members have urged the Lower Manhattan Development
Corp. rebuilding agency to have forensic experts search the building
first, and many planned to ask Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday to
require a team from the medical examiner’s office to be on the site at
“This is an abomination that we are putting this on construction
workers,” said Sally Regenhard, the mother of a firefighter killed at
the trade center.
The medical examiner’s office has more than 9,000 unidentified
remains from the 2,749 victims of the trade center attack. The remains
are being are being stored in the hope that more sophisticated DNA
technology will allow for identifications in the future. The remains of
more than 40% of the people killed at the trade center have not been
Are we our bones or are we something greater?
Is it possible to bury a beloved without a body?
Have our human rituals become slaves to science?
Must we rely upon DNA samples and absolute identification to finally let our mourning rest in peace?