NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Monique Keyes got the call about her late finacee, Ernest James, just over two weeks shy of a decade after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Every year, she would travel to Ground Zero to grieve, carrying burdens of sorrow and uncertainty, but confirmation that his remains were is finally bringing a sense of closure to his loved ones.
Asked if this year’s remembrance would be different, Keys told CBS 2’s Lou Young “Yes because it will allow me to say ‘goodbye’ finally, truly and completely, because I’ve always kept hope that somewhere deep down inside that I wouldn’t have to, but the phone call today allows me to say ‘yes, I can’.”
“It was stunning. I was really suprised when she informed me that he had been identified,” she said.
James, a 40-year-old employee of Marsh and McClennan, is the 1,629th World Trade Center victim to be identified at the Medical Examiner’s office – a daunting task with thousands of fragments indexed against a massive DNA database.
Even now, 10 years later, more than 1,100 people are listed as missing and presumed dead.
“I got a chill and the idea that it took 10 years to find him, it brings me back to that day,” said Sandra Harris, Keyes’ sister.
In some ways, Monique’s sister has taken the news especially hard. She was so happy for her sister in 2001, and she looked forward to having Ernest as a brother-in-law. Playing with a grandson, she grieves for the unborn nieces and nephews.
Unlike her sister, she will not attend the services this coming 10th anniversary.
“Still to this day I don’t like to go down there. I don’t like going down to the Trade Center area. It’s like, ghosts, I don’t like going down there,” Harris said.
Keyes says confirmation of her former fiancee’s death will help her finally restart her life, that she met someone recently and they plan to get married this coming December.
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