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NYPD Ceremony Marks End of Search For Human Remains at WTC

Aired July 15, 2002 - 09:44   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we are going to take you out to the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island where a ceremony is under way to mark the fact that the is city ending its effort to recover human remains from the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Officer Silva (ph).

Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for our invocation by Father Jack Ryan.

REV. JACK RYAN: Under God, we pray. This nation, so tested and hurt, this area so scarred, city of life, of business and of love, harbor of hope to the world's poor, city and harbor so stained by evil, needing your help, oh, God we pray. We pray for our dead. Give them rest eternal. Give them unending joy. Give them some day us. We pray for your wounded people whose loved ones cannot smell today's air, or feel the sunshine.

For these wounded, strong people here today and throughout America in homes and apartments sundered, shattered, that cloudless day. For these most wonderful, most resilient of people, give them God your healing and your grace, for these your workers from New York, New Jersey, from Carolina and Alabama, from throughout your land, for these your workers from government and private sector, from churches and charities. For those who came to Fresh Kills to Ground Zero, who labored long, hard reverently, to bring some peace to forever broken hearts, give these laborer and menders or heart your healing grace.

For our good leaders now rebuilding our nation, our states, our city and our lives, for those entrusted with this now ever-sacred site, give them courage to hear and serve our people.

Also gentle God, give us fury, zeal and resolve. Fury to never forget this outrage that killed our sisters, our brothers. Turn this fury, oh God into works of peace. Give us zeal, oh God, to rebuild our own ruined walls of Jerusalem, to build cities in a world of justice where this happens no more. And give us, God, firm resolve that our beautiful dead now buried are whose ashes forever grace our winds may never sore or rest forgotten. Give us God of justice resolve never to forget what we loved and lost. Finally, God, as grass grows green again on fresh kills, teach us that life, not death, has triumphed, and love not hate is our path from here. Bless us forever in your holy name, under God we pray.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you father, Father Ryan. Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. It's indeed my pleasure to introduce from the New York City U.S. Police Department inspector James Luongo.



It is my honor to welcome you here today on behalf of the many different city, state, federal agencies, private contractors, and volunteers who have called this place home for the last 10 months, in a likely place, but it was home. It is here that we witnessed firsthand the very worst in human nature, and where witnessed firsthand the response which was the very best.

Everyone should know that as we walk off this hill and go home, whether it be here in New York or around this country, that we remain faithful to the promise that we made to the families, the promise of, that we would leave no stone unturned in this search for our loved ones.

Thank you very much.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you inspector Luongo. Ladies and gentlemen, it's indeed my pleasure to introduce the mayor of New York, the honorable Michael Bloomberg.



You know, right here, we see the best and the worst. We are here because of the worst of humanity, the terrorist who caused so many deaths and so much pain, and I will make a commitment to all of you here, we will not forget the 2,800 people who died the same way people have been dying for 226 years, to make this the greatest country in the world where we can be free. We will not forget.

At the same time, we see the best here, the people who worked here to recover the remains, who worked here to give some kind of closure -- the police department, the sanitation department the fire department, the private sector. On behalf of all of us, and to some extent this day is a day to say, thanks you to you, nothing we do will be adequate in the same ways. Nothing we can ever say to the relatives left behind will ever bring their loved one back.

But on behalf of the eight million people in the city, thank for your efforts. We want to thank the military, we want to thank all of the federal and state agencies that helped. You have gone as far as anybody could ask you, to bring some kind of comfort to the victims, families, and to the rest of us.

Thank you, god bless.



Ladies and gentlemen, it's indeed my pleasure to introduce the governor of the state of New York, the honorable George Pataki.



This is an emotional and an important day for all of us who are New Yorkers, and I would like to thank three groups of people. First, to the emergency service workers and those who have been here since September 11th, we have to thank you for the courage you have hone and the sacrifices you have made under very difficult circumstances. You'll never appreciate how much finding a wedding ring or a photo of a lost father means to those families, and your work under a very difficult circumstances is incredibly appreciated by all New Yorkers.

Thank you.

To the people of Staten Island, we know you lost a great many heroes on September 11th. And we know, also, since September 11th, this landfill was reopened. We thank you for your understanding that in these difficult, exceptional times, we asked for demands, we made demands on people, and the people of Staten Island have always responded.

But I see Guy Molinari Jimmy Molinero (ph), and when I signed that bill with Rudy Giuliani to close Fresh Kills, it will be closed, and it will stay closed. That is our commitment to the people of Staten Island.

And finally, to the families who are here today, over time, the wounds to the landscape here at Fresh Kills and at ground zero will be healed. But the wounds in our hearts will only lessen over time. We hope you appreciate the prayers that thousands of New Yorkers and Americans are offering for the heroes we lost on September 11th, and the courage they've shown, and to the families who have carried on since then with such courage, we'll continue.

And while this might be the formal closure of a particular effort in the recovery process, the effort to recover -- the effort to contain and control the emotions we feel for those heroes will never end. And the prayers and the love of New Yorkers and Americans of good will never will end. We will never forget those heroes. We will never forget you.

God bless you. God bless America. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)

GIORGIO: Thank you, Governor Pataki. It's now my pleasure to introduce United States senator, the honorable Charles Schumer.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Thank you. And it is my honor to be here today.

And today's theme could be summed up by saying that we are always moving forward, but we never stop looking back. We never stop looking back, and remember the families, the losses, the brave New Yorkers who were lost. We never stopped looking back at how New York showed the world its best, as we all came together, every one of us in our own way, to heal this city, to bring us together, to overcome the terrible, dastardly act of September 11th.

We look back and remember the people who worked here to find that little bit of remembrance, which was the only physical remembrance that thousands of New York families have of a loved one who is lost. But we move forward, and we pledge in the name of those who are lost and pledge in the name of all of those who have worked so hard and long to help bring our city together, that we will continue to move forward as we look back, and we will make our city bigger, and better and stronger than it was at anytime in our history, and we will make our country to continue to be -- we will make sure it continues to be the beacon of the world, and we will tell those evil people from halfway around the world who did their dastardly deed that they messed with the wrong city, and they missed with the wrong state and they messed with the wrong country, and they will pay the price, and we will make our world safe and free.

God bless New York. God bless all of you. And God bless America.


GIORGIO: Thank you, Senator Schumer.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's indeed my pleasure the police commissioner of the city of New York, the honorable Raymond W. Kelly.


RAY KELLY, NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER: Thank you. Today we close another chapter in our nation and our city's response to the events of September 11th. It's a chapter that deserves special recognition. As we all know, the attacks on the World Trade Center brought out the very best in our emergency personnel. The courage shown by the responders that day has been well chronicled.

What has been less chronicled is the work that has been done here at Fresh Kills, work that has been no less important. The Fresh Kills facility was set up with the diligence and care befitting the world's biggest crime scene. The painstaking sifting of nearly 200 million tons of debris has really been about reclaiming the victims of the 9/11 tragedy.

By discovering and cataloging 54,000 items of property and identifying many of the owners of this material, workers here have helped family members of the victims obtain some sense of closure on a loss of their loved ones.

To those family members in attendance today, we thank you for your understanding and support of the efforts here at Fresh Kills.

While searching the debris for identifying objects and personal affects, the men and women working here also gathered forensic evidence important for the ongoing investigation. It has been a daunting task. Every day, workers here face the arrival of massive truckloads of debris, excavated from the Trade Center site, debris brought here for them to attempt to make sense of. The work has been meticulous and emotionally draining.

We owe these men and women a debt of gratitude for undertaking and performing this difficult task with such skill, dedication and care, and cooperation shown among all the various agencies involved here at Fresh Kills, as well as the members of private firms and volunteers has truly been exemplary, and has made the remarkable achievements here at the landfill possible. I congratulate all of you for your professionalism.

As we move on from the events of September 11th and the work at the Fresh Kills facility. And as though of you have been assigned here resume your careers, you can do so with the sense of satisfaction, of an important job well done. You're work clearly demonstrates that the dedication and commitment of our emergency responders was not confined to the immediate site of the attack or September 11th. It carried on as well after that day, especially here at Fresh Kills.

In truth, what you accomplished here was far more than recover the material affects from an unspeakable tragedy. Your collective efforts formed a powerful living tribute to the victims, a tribute you paid each and every day you came to work here. You are to be commended for managing this solemn task with dignity and honor. We will never forget what took place here, and the part you played in tending to this hallowed ground.

Thank you.


ZAHN: This ceremony that we're watching from the landfill at Staten Island basically ending the city's effort to recover any human remains from the rubble of the World Trade Center. All of the dignitaries honoring the painstaking work of the thousands of workers that came to the site everyday, that sifted through 1.6 million tons of debris, looking for small body fragments, and some 50,000 personal items turned up in this search.





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