It’s Shocking How Many 9/11 Victims Remain Unidentified 13 Years After the Attacks
On the 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I was shocked to find the remains of almost 1,115 victims are still unidentified or unaccounted for.
To put that in perspective, that's well over a third of the 2,977 victims.
That day was one of pure chaos. It wasn't as if there were any official headcounts of people in the World Trade Center at the time of the attacks. Also, it was incredibly hard to keep tabs on first responders who were scaling the building to help get people to safety.
And when those buildings fell down -- tons and tons of burning steel and concrete -- the remains of many of the buildings' occupants were pulverized into dust. Some were almost completely vaporized. Only fragments remain.
The process of putting names to the fragmented remains has become incredibly hard. The L.A. Times reported earlier this year that only four new people were positively identified in 2013.
I tried to imagine how that must feel for the family members of the those still unidentified. Some part of your brain has to realize that they died in the building's collapse. But 13 years later, does some part of your brain hope that maybe they're alive somewhere? That maybe they hit their head that day and wandered off with amnesia? Without the remains and proper burial, how hard is it to get closure? I guess at some point you just have to move on. I don't know how I would feel in that situation.
Still, I was floored by the number of people who still aren't officially identified. Their remains spent many years in a New York City medical examiner's office facility. They've now been officially moved to a private repository at the World Trade Center memorial site. They're not on display, but family members of victims can make arrangements go there.
Is there still hope? Sure. Forensic advances are made every day, and there may one day be a way to put a name to all the remains. But until then, it's heartbreaking to think of the over 1,000 souls who haven't been fully put to rest. Here's to hoping that happens soon.