Dear Family and Friends,
There have been recent news reports questioning the decision made many years ago regarding the inclusion of unidentified remains in the 9/11 Memorial Museum. This prompted Frank and I to join with other 9/11 family members to create the following joint letter which summarizes the thoughtful process that was guided by a wide range of family members over the course of many years.
We recognize the sensitivity of this issue and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. As always, please feel free to contact our office at 203-966-3911.
Mary Fetchet & The VOICES Staff
Dear 9/11 Family Members,
As 9/11 family members who were involved in and familiar with the Memorial planning process, we felt it important to set the record straight concerning recent reports about plans for the unidentified remains of those killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Of all the extraordinarily sensitive and difficult issues that family members have had to deal with, the unidentified remains of our loved ones continues to be perhaps the most highly sensitive and emotional one.
From the outset of the Memorial planning process in 2002, the Families Advisory Council, which was comprised of 9/11 family members and representatives of victims' family organizations, stated with absolute clarity that the unidentified remains must return to the World Trade Center site. As the Memorial plans evolved in the years that followed, the decision to locate the unidentified remains in a private repository at the sacred bedrock of the World Trade Center was made in consultation with family members. The location was requested by victims' families, and expressed to officials charged with planning the Memorial and Museum through the Council and the Coalition of 9/11 Family Members, as well as through letters, petitions and public comments. Situating the repository at bedrock was recommended so that the remains could be interred at the sacred ground where our loved ones were murdered.
As late as June 2006, the Council, in meetings with Memorial design and construction experts, discussed potential revisions to the Memorial design. Comments by the Council members were made that the unidentified remains should be placed in-between the two footprints, so as not to privilege one footprint over the other, and that the remains need to be included at the site and that that should not change, should other revisions to the Memorial and Museum be made.
Those requests have been honored.
The remains will be preserved in a closed repository cared for by New York City's Medical Examiner. The space, located behind a wall at bedrock, will also include a private room for contemplation and reflection, specifically, and only, for 9/11 victims' families. Furthermore, the Medical Examiner will continue to make every effort to make positive identifications so that remains can be returned to families.
To be explicitly clear, the remains will not be part of the Museum's public spaces. Nor will they be on view to the public in any way.
The Museum has proposed marking the wall behind which the repository will sit, with a quotation from Virgil's Latin classical poem, the Aeneid: "No day shall erase you from the memory of time." In addition, there will be a small commemorative plaque. We believe that an acknowledgement of the remains is important to communicate and also a respectful way to honor the memory of those whose remains are interred there.
We also want to assure our fellow 9/11 family members that for the past five years, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum staff has been in conversation with family members of victims, and has consulted with trauma psychologists, museum ethics experts, interfaith clergy, and numerous other advisors to consider the most sensitive and appropriate ways to honor the extraordinary obligation of creating a memorial museum located at one of the sites of the 9/11 attacks.
We understand and respect that opinions may differ on the issue of how to repose the remains. However, please be assured that the plan being implemented was driven both by the Families Advisory Council and a separate entity of family organizations themselves. And, it was done through a consultative process that considered family members' wishes.
Most importantly, we believe the plan treats the remains with the utmost care, respect and reverence.
Virginia S. Bauer, wife of David Bauer, North Tower
Paula Grant Berry, wife of David Berry, South Tower
Mary Fetchet, mother of Brad Fetchet, South Tower
Frank Fetchet, father of Brad Fetchet, South Tower
Christine A. Ferer, wife of Neil Levin, North Tower
Monica Iken, wife of Michael Iken, South Tower
Anthoula Katsimatides, sister of John Katsimatides, North Tower
Margie Miller, wife of Joel Miller, North Tower
Tom Rogér, father of Jean Rogér, Flight 11
Charles Wolf, husband of Katherine Wolf, North Tower