I would first like to point out that we are only talking about the Pentagon attack and not the other sites attacked on 911. The the people in charge of the recovery and disposition in New York and Pennsylvania, did their best to treat every body as a hero and all recoverable parts, even as small as a fingernail with the utmost respect. The story below conveys that at the Pentagon it was a different story and in the end, the partial remains were handled differently then the intact fallen victims recovered from the site. My personal view is that every recoverable piece of human flesh and bones is a person and should be treated as so. I can understand that each bit can not be identified and returned to survivors and there is some commingling accruing, but the landfill should not ever be considered as a final resting site. There are many opinions on how to handle such remains and I would like to hear them and or government needs to hear them. What do you think? My personal recommendation would be to cremate remains in this condition, but commingling the ashes into cremation urns does not fell right to me. A ash scattering garden on the grounds of the Pentagon or maybe in Arlington National Cemetery seems more fitting. A public scattering ceremony performed by a trained Funeral Celebrant would provide a non- denominational style of ceremony and would create a environment of healing and closure. A communal monument where names could be etched would honor and give a focal point where survivors could visit makes sense to me. We really need to make sure this does not happen again, so please share your thoughts and lets join our voices and get the message to our elected officials that we will not stand for this kind of disrespect anymore!
Air Force Officials Discussed Burial at Sea for Remains From Pentagon Attack
By ELISABETH BUMILLER, NY Times
WASHINGTON — American military officials discussed scattering Ashes at sea some unidentified remains of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon, but the officials were overruled and the remains were burned and dumped in a landfill, according to Defense Department documents released on Friday.
In nearly 2,000 heavily redacted pages, the documents show that an Air Force colonel — the name is blacked out — wrote in an August 2002 e-mail,
“I do like the idea of spreading the ashes at sea.” However, the colonel’s superior, also unnamed, responded that “we shouldn’t attempt to spread the residue at sea” because it might “send a message” to the victims’ families “that we are disposing of human remains, and that is not the case.”
The documents were the latest disclosures about problems at the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the entry point for the nation’s war dead. The papers show how officials at Dover struggled over what to do with small, unidentified biological remains that were mixed in with rubble from the Pentagon. In the end, without telling the victims’ families, they determined that the remains — some 1,321 portions in all — should be treated like medical waste.
Much of the information in the documents has been previously released, including the fact that unidentified remains from the Pentagon attack, which were sent to Dover, were cremated and placed in containers provided to a biomedical waste disposal contractor, which then incinerated them and put them in a landfill. But the documents revealed for the first time that military officials initially discussed Scattering the ashes in the Atlantic Ocean, but ended up following the lead of the unnamed superior, who evidently was worried that families would think of the small portions as “human” if they were treated with the respect of a burial at sea.
Air Force officials said Friday that the superior was following guidance handed down from top Pentagon officials about how to dispose of the remains.
When the military first disclosed last month that some Sept. 11 Pentagon victims’ remains were burned and dumped in a landfill, some people were shocked that even unidentified body parts would be treated in such a way.
Pentagon officials were at the time reluctant to say much in public about the nature of the remains, given the sensitivities of the victims’ families and the emotions surrounding 9/11.
But at a news conference on Friday, Jo Ann Rooney, an acting under secretary of defense, offered a more telling, if graphic, description of the kind of remains that were burned and sent to a landfill. She said they were small portions that laboratory analysis judged as “biological,” although not necessarily human. “It could have been something from someone’s lunch,” she said.
Ms. Rooney also said it was impossible to determine if the remains had been mixed in with those from the terrorists who crashed United Flight 77 into the Pentagon.
Some other partial remains from the attack on the Pentagon have been cremated and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Remains that were identified as those of the terrorists were sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The practice of landfill disposal, which was also used for some unidentified remains of war dead, has since been stopped. After cremation, the ashes are now put in Cremation urns and buried at sea.
The Dover mortuary has been under fire the past year for what the Air Force has called “gross mismanagement” for losing the body parts of two service members, repeated failures of command, doing little to correct sloppy practices and sawing off the protruding arm bone of a dead Marine without informing his family. Three top Dover officials are no longer in their jobs and the Air Force now says practices at the mortuary have improved.
The new documents also shed light on problems at the mortuary that the Pentagon has only hinted at in the past. In September 2005, the documents show, the remains of two service members were almost sent to the wrong families, but Dover officials figured out the problem and switched them at the Philadelphia airport.
“Both sets of remains arrived at the proper destination on time without outside embarrassment to the Air Force,” the documents said, noting that the military official responsible for the mistake was not disciplined.
The documents show that the widow of a Marine was paid $25,000 in 2008 as compensation for the mortuary’s loss of her husband’s wedding ring, wallet and dog tags. It was the widow’s desire that her husband be buried with his wedding ring, a letter from an unnamed person who appears to be the woman’s lawyer states, “and she is experiencing great grief over this miscarriage of justice.”
The Pentagon briefed family members of the Pentagon 9/11 victims about the documents on Friday morning.