Ceremony Ends Search for WTC Remains
Mon Jul 15, 4:19 PM ET

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 ceremony, which
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 workers wearing
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 February.

"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 remains.

Before the ceremony, firefighter Robert Johnson held back tears as he described the labor-intensive
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 - have been
identified. The medical examiner's office has nearly 20,000 body parts in cold storage.

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