What do you suppose the reaction would have been if the proposal to build a $100 million Islamic center and mosque at Ground Zero had been made in, say, November 2001? I have to suppose even Mayor Michael Bloomberg would have thought it outside the bounds of common decency to consider such a thing while we were still recovering and burying our dead.
The question is worth pondering in light of a stunningly under-reported story. Did you know that we are still recovering and burying our dead? It’s true: we are still identifying new victims killed by Islamist terrorists at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
In late June, CBS — in a barely noticed story that is no longer available on its website — reported that 72 sets of human remains had just been recovered and identified as a result of new construction work at the Ground Zero site. The CBS report is cited in a synopsis at a compendium site called 9/11 Research. The synopsis explains: “Although a CBSNEWS article stated that ‘some’ [of the remains] ‘have been matched to previously unidentified Sept. 11 victims,’ it did not provide further details.” Obviously, this implies that some of the newly recovered remains are actually newly identified victims. Mind you, that’s June 2010 — only a few weeks ago.
This new discovery happened because, all these years later, some of the WTC complex has been inaccessible until recently. A stepped-up effort was started in October 2006, following the discovery of remains at a Con-Ed location within the WTC perimeter. In late June 2010, at the time of the aforementioned news report, Mayor Bloomberg was informed of the bracing news that “1,845 potential human remains” had been recovered thanks to this intensified search.
That hasn’t made it into any of the mayor’s speeches about how ashamed of ourselves we ought to be for objecting to the Ground Zero mosque. Nor has the State Department seen fit to include information about the toll — the continuing toll — of jihadist terror at the website where it has broadcast Bloomberg’s remarks to the world.
The report to the mayor concludes that, since 2006, the medical examiner’s office “has made 25 new victim identifications and hundreds of potential human remains identified during the renewed search have been linked to previously identified victims.”
So have we reached closure? Hardly. The mayor was advised in June that the medical examiner is continuing to “monitor ongoing construction in the WTC area,” and is “conducting excavation and sifting operations as necessary and as it gains access.” The medical examiner’s office expressed confidence that its “ability to identify those lost on 9/11 continues to improve, and DNA testing will continue until all recovered remains that can be matched with a victim are identified.”
Translation: They anticipate finding more remains and, potentially, identifying new victims.
I spent a great deal of time in and around Ground Zero in the weeks after 9/11. Back then, it was striking that, amid the devastation and the frenetic activity, there was pause for solemn ceremony each time a victim’s remains were found and carried from the complex. There was dignity accompanied by a profound sense of loss — not just out of respect for the life that had been destroyed and the family that would mourn, but owing to the fact that this was an attack on our country, on all of us. Each and every recovery was a sober reminder that this site is hallowed ground, a place in which the human loss is so vast that we may never know its full extent. The families of the victims and the rest of us still do not have peace and may never have peace.
These latest overlooked disclosures should cause us to remember that. Why are we even talking about erecting a permanent monument to Islam at Ground Zero when we are still discovering, recovering, and burying our dead — Americans killed by Islamist terrorists who regarded their atrocity as a monument to Islam?
Why aren’t we being told more about the victims and the fact that we are still finding them?
And why would anyone who claims to want to “build bridges” proceed in such an unseemly way?