NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Families of Sept. 11 victims whose remains were never recovered are appealing to the city and to the president to have the unidentified remains moved out of the museum.
The National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum will house the remains at bedrock level of the World Trade Center site. Some families have labeled that plan as disrespectful and want an above-ground entombment on the Memorial Plaza.
Sally Regenhard, whose son died on 9/11, has been a visible and outspoken critic of the museum’s plans.
“My son never came home to me. And yet, the city of New York is saying that I don’t have a legal interest in these remains,” she said.
On its website, the museum said the decision to move the remains to the subterranean repository was made after receiving overwhelming feedback from families. The remains will be moved from the medical examiner’s office to their new home on Saturday.
Attorney Norman Siegel said he did his own survey of victims’ families and found “94.6 percent of the 300 families who responded said no.”
Rosemary Cain’s son George was a firefighter who died in the terror attacks. His body was never recovered.
“Don’t put the remains in the basement, give them respect so 3,000 souls can rest in peace through eternity,” she said. “They’re grave robbers and they’re doing it for money. It’s about greed and ego.”
The families have appealed to President Barack Obama, who has plans to visit the museum for its official opening next Thursday. Relatives of the victims also called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to help keep the remains out of the museum.
“Let’s see where they want it: above grade in a memorial with an eternal light where it’s open to the public free of charge, or in a revenue-generating tourist attraction,” retired deputy fire chief Jim Riches, whose son Jimmy was killed in the attacks, said. “I’ll never set foot in that museum until those remains are out of there and above grade on a plaza in a respectful place where it’s open to all the public to go for free.”
Phil Walzak, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio, issued a statement in response to the controversy:
“The de Blasio Administration is implementing the remains transfer plan it inherited from the previous Administration. We have made a number of modifications to that plan in order to improve transparency and public notice about the transfer. Our administration has engaged the community of 9/11 families continuously since entering office four months ago. This includes talking with and listening to families who have questions about this plan — as well as many families who are supportive and comfortable with this plan.
“Finally, it is important to note that the repository is a permanent medical examiner’s facility that will continue to support the work of identifying remains, with the ultimate goal of identifying every remain and returning them to their families — who can then decide how to best lay their loved ones to rest,” the statement continued.
The remains will be walled off from the rest of the museum and the area will not be open to the public.
Families of 9/11 victims will not have to pay to visit the repository, the museum noted on its website.
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