Ten years ago, American life received a jolt as four airplanes were hijacked for the purpose of flying into large buildings. Three succeeded. Here’s a timeline of that day.
We were traveling that day and I was sleeping in at my daughter’s house in Nashville, TN. My wife and daughter woke me with the news and we stayed glued to the TV the rest of the day as events unfolded.
In the years that have passed, some things have become clear, some remain cloudy.
Of 21,000 remains that have been recovered, nearly 9,000 are unidentified, because of the degraded condition they were found in. More than 1,100 victims have no identifiable remains.
in five years, only 26 new identifications.
Not out of the realm of possibility, based on the physics, but breath-taking nonetheless. The physics:
In Pennsylvania, the heat caused by the high-speed crash into a field caused 92 percent of the human remains to vaporize, leaving very little to work with,
but they’ve managed to
make matches to the 40 victims, plus four sets of remains from the terrorists.
All but five victims at the Pentagon have been identified.
But nowhere was the forensic detective work as demanding and daunting than at the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where the giant towers collapsed onto the rest of the complex, breaking everything into pieces.
And the work continues,
Five scientists work seven days a week trying to make new identifications at a lab in an ultra-modern building on the east side of Manhattan.
And then there’s this,
The failure to identify so many victims has affected the final victims’ count over the years The city’s list of the dead — often with multiple missing persons’ reports of the same people — peaked at nearly 7,000 in the months after the attacks, but dropped to 2,752 by the fall of 2002.
Project 2996 lists, well, 2996. Not sure when the list may have been updated. Note the numbers here.
As of August 2011, 1,631 victims have been identified, while 1,122 (41%) of the victims remained unidentified.
That makes 2,753, the commonly accepted number. Note that names are added and subtracted.
Three more names were removed in 2004 after investigators failed to track them to the trade center; including Sneha Anne Philip, a Manhattan doctor who was last seen Sept. 10, 2001, at a department store across from the twin towers. Her name was added back to the death toll in 2008 after her family argued in court that there was no other place she could have been.
Sometimes it’s just too much to wrap one’s head around.
And then you read,
Twenty-seven profiles DNA generated so far don’t match any of the approximately 17,000 genetic reference materials that were collected. Scientists aren’t sure who they are. [Emphasis mine]
Watching some of the specials on the National Geographic channel recently reminded me of the sad, sad stories that day. So did the series of excerpts from Mike Nichols book Just a Few Sleeps Away in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Andrea Haberman, a Wisconsin woman who was in the North Tower. And I read an article in the September/October 2011 issue of The History Channel magazine by Michael Graves, Between the Dawn and the Dusk (not found online). Mr. Graves was in his hotel room at the Marriott World Trade Center hotel when the first plane hit.
The images flash through the brain; the explosive collisions, the jumpers, people on the street hit with debris, pictures of firefighters ascending the stairs, the collapses, the calls from those trapped, the posters hung on the street, the smoldering wreckage in a field in Pennsylvania.