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Thread: A Grim Job Done, as Dust Is Returned Unto Dust

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2001

    A Grim Job Done, as Dust Is Returned Unto Dust

    A Grim Job Done, as Dust Is Returned Unto Dust

    or the workers at the Fresh Kills landfill who sifted through 1.62 million tons of rubble from the World Trade Center for remains of those killed on Sept. 11 and for clues about those responsible for the attack, the official end of their job yesterday seemed a sad graduation of sorts.

    Politicians joined them, along with the family members of some of the victims, for a solemn ceremony at the landfill in Staten Island at the completion of an operation that had continued nearly nonstop since Sept. 12.

    The 1,350 crushed vehicles are gone. The mountains of twisted and tortured structural steel that stretched the length of four football fields have been scrapped and recycled. The trucks, backhoes and conveyor belts sit silent and still. All but a few stray mounds of the dirt and pulverized concrete have been returned to an indifferent earth, whose solid mass tells no stories of the tragedy plowed beneath it.

    That is left to the workers who came to this place, day after day, at their peak sorting through 7,000 tons of debris every 24 hours.

    Martin Fogarty, 34, a machine operator, saw a bone, two feet long, on the second day of sifting through the wreckage brought from Lower Manhattan to the place here they called the Hill.

    "I think it was an arm," he said.

    It was like that for many of the workers, as the seemingly unreal became a daily grind.

    "We put our life on hold," said Richard Saunders, 41, who sifted debris at the site from the time the first truck from ground zero arrived at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 12.

    But yesterday it was time to move on.

    "We are here because of the worst of humanity, the terrorists who caused so many deaths and so much pain," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said before praising the workers. "You have gone as far as anyone could ask to bring comfort to these victims."

    Police Officer Thomas Byrne was among the family members who came to pay his respects for a job well done. His brother Patrick, a firefighter with Ladder Company 101 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, died at the trade center. "I came here to say thank you and to help keep the memory alive," Officer Byrne said. Despite the hard work of those on the Hill, he said, his brother's remains were not found.

    In brief remarks at the ceremony, Gov. George E. Pataki spoke for many when he said, "Over time, the wounds to this landscape will be healed, but the wounds in our hearts will only lessen over time."

    Just as often as the landfill workers bonded by joking and teasing with one another, they spoke of memories that will linger.

    Dominick Bilotti worked with the Sanitation Department at Fresh Kills when it was the receptacle for New York City's trash and before it was closed in March 2001, only to be reopened on Sept. 12. Mr. Bilotti said the trade center rubble was vastly unlike the old garbage, particularly in one way. "Not one piece of glass was found," he said. "It was all dust."

    After the ceremony, clusters of workers from the myriad organizations that created order at Fresh Kills in the chaotic days after Sept. 11 congratulated one other and posed for pictures on a day that had the feel of a commencement. There were the union men charged with operating the heavy equipment, standing with Mayor Bloomberg. The police officers who looked for clues in the debris gathered around Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly for a snapshot of their own. The sanitation workers proudly displayed a quilt sent to them by schoolchildren.

    Friends who formed their bond in sorrow said goodbye with a smile.

    At the end of the winding road that leads out of the landfill and back to the highway, Daya Madison of St. George, Staten Island, displayed the same sign she has held at the site nearly every day for 10 months, wishing the workers well.

    As cars filed by after the ceremony, she waved, and the occupants waved back. And as she said, "God bless you," they thanked her by name.

    "It's a little sad," she said. "But I'm glad it's done so these people can go back to their lives."

  2. #2
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002




    July 16, 2002 --

    Earth-moving equipment stood silent as bagpipers played somber melodies during a ceremony yesterday marking the end of the search for human remains at the Fresh Kills landfill.

    Hundreds of people ignored the stench of the Staten Island dump to honor those killed on Sept. 11 and to thank the workers who painstakingly looked for their remains for the last 10 months.

    At the 25-minute event, Mayor Bloomberg said the efforts showed the best of people under the worst of circumstances.

    "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," Bloomberg said.

    Gov. Pataki told the workers, "You'll never appreciate how much finding a wedding ring or a photo means to that family.

    "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," Pataki said.

    Bruce DeCell, whose son-in-law, Mark Petrocelli, died in the World Trade Center attacks, offered his personal thanks to the workers.

    "I'm honoring someone whom I loved and I'll miss for the rest of my life," he said.

    DeCell's daughter, Nicole Petrocelli, frequently visited the site to watch as workers diligently sifted through the 1.62 million tons of debris, looking for something to pass on to grieving family members.

    "I grew up on Staten Island. It was a garbage dump. This is never going to be looked at as a garbage dump ever again," Petrocelli said. "It's sacred, hallowed ground now."

    Camille and Bill Doyle have only a driver's license and charge cards from their son, Joseph.

    "I honestly believe not enough credit has been given to these people," Bill Doyle said of the workers.

    Michele DeFazio, who lost her husband of three months, Jason, was grateful for what the workers did recover.

    "Just finding his ID card . . . It was upsetting, but I treasure that so much," DeFazio said.

  3. #3
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002

    9/11 Remains Hunt Is Ended on S.I.

    9/11 Remains Hunt Is Ended on S.I.

    Daily News Staff Writer

    The search is over but will be forever incomplete.

    Loved ones of those killed on Sept. 11 gathered at a Staten Island landfill yesterday as the city ended its last attempt to recover human remains from World Trade Center debris.

    The families came to Fresh Kills to say one more goodbye and to thank the legions of workers who sifted through 1.6 million tons of ruins.

    They left knowing the dusty encampment will serve as the final resting place for as many as 1,596 victims lost without an identifiable trace.

    "Over time, the wounds to the landscape here at Fresh Kills and at Ground Zero will be healed," Gov. Pataki said, standing in front of a heap of debris. "But the wounds in our hearts will only lessen over time."

    In the end, 1,377 body parts were found at the landfill. Of those, 188 have been matched to someone on the list of the dead, the city medical examiner said yesterday.

    "As we walk off this hill ... we remain faithful to the promise we made to the families

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