WTC debris may get new S.I. home
December 23, 2005 -- Tons of particles from the World Trade Center collapse - possibly containing the remains of victims - could be moved from the Fresh Kills landfill to another Staten Island site nearby. The city and a group of 9/11 families agreed yesterday to see if a 40-acre site on Muldoon Ave. could be suitable. The site was among those proposed by the World Trade Center Families for Proper Burial shortly after it sued in Manhattan Federal Court in August, seeking to force the city to move the WTC material.
James Tyrrell, an attorney for the city, told Judge Alvin Hellerstein that the city isn't prepared to accept that all of the disputed material should be moved.The city has estimated the material weighs as much as 480,000 tons and until now, has planned to mark the Fresh Kills site with a memorial. The city also claims that the Muldoon Ave. site contains household waste - an assertion disputed by Norman Siegel, the lawyer for the families.The material is what was left after the WTC debris was sifted extensively for human remains during the 9/11 victim identification effort.James Taylor, whose Taylor Recycling Facility worked in the Fresh Kills recovery, advised the families it would cost $135 million to develop the Muldoon Ave. site. The city says the price would go much higher.Besides urging the two sides to survey the site, Hellerstein called on Tyrrell to see if the WTC Memorial might make some note of those whose remains weren't recovered.
Victims' Remains To Be At Wtc Memorial
January 5, 2006 -- Family members of 9/11 victims will be able to enter a private room in the World Trade Center memorial and look through a window at a chamber storing more than 9,000 pieces of unidentified human remains, officials said. In a "contemplation room" next door, the public will be able to pay respects to an empty, symbolic vessel.
Development officials disclosed more information about the design this week as they sought construction bids for the memorial. The climate-controlled, low-humidity storage chamber for the victims' remains is one of several rooms to be built where the trade center's north tower stood, said Anne Papageorge, who oversees memorial development for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. The actual remains will not be visible from the window, Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the city Medical Examiner's Office, said yesterday. Some family members said they would have preferred that the remains be entombed in the larger contemplation room. "Why should the public pay tribute to an empty box?" asked Edie Lutnick, whose brother was killed. Papageorge said that the symbolic vessel isn't large enough to hold the 9,100 unidentified remains and that it wasn't possible to keep it climate-controlled. She said the medical examiner's office also needs easier access to the storage chamber in case it has to retrieve remains.
So far, 1,594 of the 2,749 people who died at the trade center have been identified.
9/11 memories alive online
January 9, 2006 -- Four-and-a-half years later, the terrible events of 9/11 are still fresh in the minds of New Yorkers, and now an online archive is ensuring the memories never fade. Starting today, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation will gather and post personal 9/11 reflections on its Web site, buildthememorial.org. "The plan is to launch a digital archive that will ultimately become part of the memorial museum," foundation Vice President Lynn Rasic said.
The foundation is priming the pump by posting several accounts it has already culled. In one account, Fire Lt. Mickey Kross of Engine Co. 16 recalls how he miraculously survived the collapse of the north tower while still inside the building. "I literally tried to squeeze myself into my helmet," he writes. "Debris hit me from all angles and enveloped the stairwell in total darkness." The searchable archive, to be called Story Builder, will also allow visitors to attach photos to their stories.
Foundation CEO Gretchen Dykstra said, "In preparing to build the memorial, the foundation is trying hard to remember this was an event that touched everybody." A Zogby poll done for the organization last summer found that nine out of 10 people believe 9/11 was the most significant historic event in their lifetime. The foundation recently announced it has raised more than $100 million of the $500 million needed to build the memorial and memorial museum. Dykstra told The News that the foundation is in talks with Columbia University about making buildthememorial.org an outlet for an oral history of 9/11 that the school compiled. "Our intention is to be a repository for as much of this human history as possible," she added. Another oral-history project, run by the nonprofit StoryCorps since July, has been recording the 9/11 remembrances of visitors to its studio on the concourse level of the Trade Center PATH station.
Bravest' families lose bid to sue over faulty 9/11 radios
WASHINGTON — Families of New York firefighters killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, failed Tuesday to persuade the Supreme Court to allow them to go forward with a lawsuit against New York City and Motorola for supplying the rescuers with faulty radios. The high court let stand a decision by a lower appellate court that dismissed the lawsuit, which had blamed the city and Motorola for supplying firefighters with handheld communications devices that prevented them from hearing evacuation orders while they were in the north tower trying to rescue people.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the families had waived their right to sue when they accepted money from the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund. The fund was created when Congress passed the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act, which was designed to keep airlines from being ruined financially and sending the nation’s economy into further chaos. The firefighters’ families argued that the lower courts had misinterpreted the law and Congress’ intent. The families accused New York and Motorola of entering into a fraudulent, no-bid contract that supplied firefighters with ineffective radios that city and company officials knew for years did not work in high-rise buildings. The Sept. 11 Commission, created by Congress to investigate the government’s performance leading up to the attacks, devoted a portion of its report to the communications problems. The equipment carried by firefighters on Sept. 11 was the same model that had been used by rescuers during the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. It didn’t work then, the commission said, and it didn’t work on Sept. 11. In court filings, Motorola didn’t address the complaints about the radios but argued that Congress had given the families a choice of filing a lawsuit or accepting money from the fund. By opting for compensation from the fund, the company said, the families “waived their right” to sue.
Lifelessly cold, gritty and rough.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 01/19/06
Lifelessly cold, gritty and rough.This chunk of metal weighing as much as a man is not a pretty thing, but already it has become the most precious possession of the Forsyth County Fire Department. "It's just a piece of steel, but touch it and, oh, my gosh," said Chief Danny Bowman. Unlike this 15-by-25-inch piece of scrap, some of the wreckage of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center was released early on by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Cities, churches and other organizations have incorporated pieces of metal in memorials from Sacramento to Boston. This piece of history, brought from New York to Cumming just before Christmas, came with even greater significance to firefighters.
The Port Authority allowed the Fire Department of New York to claim a small amount of scrap steel as its own, according to Lt. Brian Gary of Forsyth County. The steel in Cumming is from FDNY's cache, and it's only the second piece that FDNY has given to an outside organization, said Gary, a fourth-generation New York City firefighter who has been with the Forsyth County department eight years. When Bowman suggested his idea for a 911 memorial in the foyer of the county's public safety building under construction on Settingdown Road, Gary put out the word to his New York colleagues.
It looked positive.
Bowman then wrote to FDNY Chief Salvatore Cassano on Dec. 9, requesting the "sacred artifact." "Should you approve," Bowman wrote, "the plan is to place the artifact on display where every person who enters our facility cannot escape its presence. To be able to experience this awesome piece of our heritage, would keep the supreme sacrifice of our brothers fresh in the memory of all who are honored to be in its presence."The request was granted, and 10 days later Gary was on his way to pick it up. Forsyth County's piece is a slice of an I-beam from which FDNY had already cut business card-size medallions to give to the survivors of the 343 FDNY firefighters who died in the attack and its aftermath."The biggest thing to them [FDNY] is that people from all walks of life get to touch it," Gary said.
When the Forsyth County Public Safety Center opens this spring, the memorial will be the first thing visitors see when they enter. Expected to open in May, the center on Settingdown Road will house the sheriff's office, Fire Department, emergency management agency and 911 operation. Plans for the memorial design are incomplete, but Bowman said it will be in place when the building is dedicated. The steel may be set in Georgia marble with a bronze plaque explaining its origin, Capt. Jason Shivers said. When Bowman told him the county had received the "important piece of history," County Manager Jeff Quesenberry said he gave immediate approval to integrate it into the new building. "It will be an item of significance for generations to come for both residents and visitors alike," Quesenberry said. The public will be able to view and touch the steel during regular business hours, Shivers said. Video monitoring and card-key entry after hours will help secure the piece, he said.
For FDNY and for Bowman, the physical connection is a must. Bowman said the feeling he got when he first touched the steel was like the spiritual experiences he had touching the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and visiting Lincoln's deathbed in Washington. "I honestly did not know what to expect from myself emotionally the first time I laid my hands upon the I-beam," said Bowman, who has not flown since the 9-11 attack. "I literally had my breath taken away."
He hopes for the same experience for everyone who visits.
Among those who have already touched the piece is Jason Early, a county firefighter and member of the Georgia National Guard's 48th Brigade deployed in Iraq, who saw the piece during a recent furlough. "He said, This is what our mission is all about,' " Gary said.
Rips EPA's all-clear, OKs suit
February 3, 2006 -- A federal judge blasted former Environmental Protection Agency head Christie Whitman yesterday for telling residents and workers in lower Manhattan that the air was safe to breathe immediately following 9/11.
"Whitman's deliberate and misleading statements to the press, where she reassured the public that the air was safe to breathe around lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and that there would be no health risk presented to those returning to those areas, shocks the conscience," Manhattan Federal Judge Deborah Batts wrote.Batts' scathing remarks came in a pretrial opinion in a classaction lawsuit filed by students, workers and residents of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who say Whitman and other officials knowingly presented a false rosy picture of air-quality issues after the towers fell. "The good news continues to be that air samples we have taken have all been at levels that cause us no concern," Whitman said just five days after the attacks. The Daily News refuted Whitman's claim a month later, citing the EPA's own air quality studies, gathered via the Freedom of Information Act.
It is now accepted that the towers' collapse released a cloud of hazardous substances across lower Manhattan that included lead from 50,000 personal computers and some 2,000 tons of asbestos.Several rescue and cleanup workers have since developed cancer and other maladies doctors have linked to the air around Ground Zero. Whitman could not be reached for comment yesterday. The EPA said it was reviewing the 83-page opinion. Batts agreed to let the lawsuit proceed over the objections of EPA lawyers, clearing an important legal hurdle for the thousands who could recover damages if the lawsuit succeeds. "The court recognized that the EPA undertook the concerted effort to avoid its responsibility and this decision affords us the opportunity to give the aggrieved residents and members of the New York City community their day in court," said Justin Blitz, an attorney for the residents. Batts said Whitman's comments were irresponsible. "Without doubt, if plaintiffs had not been told by the head of a federal agency entrusted with monitoring the environment that it was safe, plaintiffs would not have so readily returned to the area soon after the attacks," Batts said.
FDNY Memorial at WTC Firehouse
June 10,2006 -- The Firefighter Memorial will be unveiled today. It is located on the side of the quarters of Engine 10 and Ladder 10. This bronze plaque commemorates the events of September 11, 2001 and honors the Fire Department heroes who perished that day.
A Hands-On Tribute to the Pain and Valor of 9/11/01
June 11, 2006 -- There is that instant of horror to be relived, forever frozen in bronze. There are scenes of valor and camaraderie to be celebrated. But more than anything, there are names to be touched and traced: the Fire Department's 343 dead.
The first large-scale 9/11 monument at ground zero — a bold, literal and almost neo-Classical 56-foot-long bronze relief dedicated to the firefighters "who fell and to those who carry on" — was unveiled yesterday on the side of "10 House," the home of Engine Company 10 and Ladder Company 10, across Liberty Street from the World Trade Center.
In unison, members of the two companies removed six flag-bedecked panels that had been hiding the mural, then marched slowly away, revealing the full panorama, centered on the flaming towers, with heroic and humbled firefighters on either side.
Within moments of its unveiling, family members and firefighters in dress blues were on their knees at the mural, rubbing the inscribed names of those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, arranged by rank, from First Deputy Commissioner William M. Feehan to Paramedic Ricardo J. Quinn.
"I wish his name was not on that wall," said Miriam Juarbe, the mother of Firefighter Angel L. Juarbe Jr., as she clutched the rubbing she had just made. "He made us proud. He gave too much."
Brian D. Starer, vice chairman of the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation, which raised the money for the monument, said he found a 12-year-old boy making a rubbing who told him, "This is all I have of my father."
President Bush, appearing in a videotaped message shown at the opening of the ceremony, said, "The time for mourning may pass, but the time for remembering never does." Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was present, said simply, "It's very hard coming here."
Remembrance was the theme of the morning. Peter E. Hayden, the chief of the Fire Department, pointedly noted the absence of an official memorial across the street, on what he called "holy ground."
"We've had empty promises from empty suits," Chief Hayden said, "but the Fire Department has fulfilled its promise."
The ceremony coincided with the fourth anniversary of the Fire Department's cessation of recovery operations at ground zero, although the monument is not quite complete. It is framed, as intended, by nine lighting fixtures, but the 11 paving stones for its base have yet to be installed, pending city approval. These are to be of the same garnet-flecked Adirondack granite as the Freedom Tower cornerstone.
Since crowds are already a constant at 10 House, the monument is likely to become an instant landmark.
But its creators envision a more distant horizon.
"This is a 100-year monument," said Harold Meyers, assistant chief of the department and the Manhattan borough commander. "We wanted it to tell a story. One hundred years from now, we want you to look at this and say, 'This is what happened.' "
In the central panel are the flaming towers, caught at the instant when the second jet hit on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Flanking it are scenes of firefighters laying down hose lines, a weary firefighter reaching up from a curb, firefighters washing their faces at a hydrant, a fireboat on the horizon.
They are composed in exacting detail. Chief Meyers made sure of that. A chief at the temporary command station is wearing his regulation F.D.N.Y. tie clip. Some firefighters have chocks — door-opening wedges — strapped to their helmets.
Mr. Starer said it was impossible to put an exact dollar figure on the project because so much labor and material was donated. "This is a million-dollar memorial that didn't cost a million dollars," he said.
Holland & Knight is an international law firm whose New York office is at 195 Broadway, a block from ground zero. Its central role in the firefighters' monument can be traced to the earliest days of the rescue and recovery effort, when Mr. Starer helped furnish ice for the workers on the smoldering pile.
"I like to think of this story as ice to bronze," he said.
In September 2001, his wife, Cheryl Roy Starer, immersed herself in volunteer work at a triage center in Public School 234, four blocks north of ground zero. After two or three days treating workers with deeply bloodshot eyes, for whom conventional eye drops offered no relief, she set out to create soothing ice compresses.
Mrs. Starer telephoned her husband and said: "I want you to stop what you're doing. I need ice. I'm not asking you, I'm telling you." He asked how much. "All you can get," she answered.
Nuzzolese Brothers Ice, Diamond Ice Cube and Maplewood Ice answered Mr. Starer's call, delivering 20 tons of free ice daily to ground zero for a month. Then they asked to be paid for future deliveries.
To pay for the ice, Mr. Starer, an admiralty lawyer, took advantage of assistance that had been offered by three international shipping executives — Thomas Hsu, Gregory B. Hadjieleftheriadis and Axel Karlshoej — to create an "ice fund" for ground zero.
After nine weeks, ice was no longer needed, but there was still money in the fund. Mr. Starer offered to buy a fire truck, but fire officials proposed instead that the money be used for a memorial.
He agreed, with the understanding that the monument would also honor Glenn J. Winuk, a Holland & Knight partner and volunteer firefighter in Jericho, N.Y., who raced to the trade center after helping evacuate his own building. He was not seen alive again. Mr. Winuk's name appears on a separate plaque from the listing of the 343 New York City firefighters.
Mr. Starer approached the Rambusch Company, a 108-year-old firm that specializes in decorative metalwork, stained glass and lighting. He was drawn by the firm's experience and, not coincidentally, by the fact that its chairman emeritus, Viggo Bech Rambusch, is the brother of one of Mr. Starer's law partners.
"Trajan's Column," Mr. Rambusch declared to Mr. Starer.
Conjuring that Roman monument, Mr. Rambusch evoked the notion of unfolding reliefs, almost cinematic in continuity and clarity, transmitting a wartime narrative wordlessly across centuries. Further, Mr. Rambusch ordained, the 9/11 monument must be made of a noble metal: bronze.
His sons, Martin V. and Edwin P. Rambusch, worked on the project with Joseph A. Oddi, a delineator, and Joseph Petrovics, a sculptor.
It was Mr. Oddi who sketched the preliminary vision of the monument — the burning towers already the centerpiece — during a meeting in Chief Meyers's office in December 2003 at which firefighters talked about their experiences on 9/11.
A 10-foot-long plaster model followed. Dozens of details were fussed over: how high the fireboat sat in the water, how the radio cords curled.
Full-scale panels were made in plastilene clay. At this late stage, Charles R. Cushing, a naval architect and friend of Mr. Starer, noticed that the smoke from the north tower was drifting in the wrong direction. That was revised.
Negative plaster casts were made from the plastilene. These were used to make positive plaster casts that, in turn, were pressed into a mixture called French sand. That created another mold into which the bronze was cast, at the Bedi-Makky Art Foundry in Brooklyn.
The six-foot-high, 7,000-pound mural arrived in Manhattan on May 19 in two 24-foot-long side sections and an 8-foot-long central section.
It was put up overnight. Before the south panel was hoisted into place, the installation crew and the firefighters from 10 House were invited to write messages on the back with paint pens. Some offered sentiments like "I'm here with you" or " 'Til we meet again." Others enumerated their friends who died that day — six names, seven names, eight names.
"I'm not a misty guy," Chief Meyers said, "but I have to tell you, I had a misty moment."
And those sentiments are meant to stay private and personal. "I hope," the chief said, "no one ever gets to see the back of it."