|Ceremony Ends Search
for WTC Remains
Mon Jul 15, 4:19 PM ET
By SARA KUGLER
NEW YORK (AP) - The gruesome task of
picking through the World Trade Center
ruins for human remains finally ended
Monday with a mournful ceremony at the
Staten Island landfill where the work has
gone on for the past 10 months.
"The people who worked here to
recover the remains, who worked here to
give some kind of closure... to some
extent, this day is a day to say thank you
to you," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said
at the Fresh Kills Landfill.
Relatives of some of the 2,800 victims
dabbed their eyes during the 25-minute
included mournful bagpipe music and an
invocation from the Rev. John Ryan, who
asked the audience to "pray for our
dead, give them rest eternal."
The landfill became the final stop for the
trade center rubble, which was delivered
by truck and
barge and then sorted for remains,
personal property and criminal evidence.
At the height of the operation, 7,000 tons
of material were processed each day as
respirators watched debris go by a
conveyor belts and stopped it when they
spotted a bone fragment or other remains.
The excavation of the ruins in lower
Manhattan ended last month, and the last
truckload of debris
arrived at the landfill June 28.
Hundreds of easily identified personal
items such as IDs and credit cards have
been returned to
Bill Doyle said he frequently visited the
landfill to thank the workers who found
his son Joseph's
driver's license and credit cards in
"That's the only remains we've gotten
back," Doyle said. "I think by
showing our support up here,
it meant a lot to these workers and they
actually tried even harder" to find
Before the ceremony, firefighter Robert
Johnson held back tears as he described
work, which for several months continued
around the clock.
"Along the conveyor belt, here comes
a woman's shoe. I pick it up to see if
there's a piece of foot
in it," Johnson said. "Then I
think about the person who wore it. You
know somebody had that shoe on."
Of the 2,823 people believed killed,
remains of about 1,200 - fewer than half -
identified. The medical examiner's office
has nearly 20,000 body parts in cold
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