Let the Dead Bury Their Dead: The National September 11 Memorial & Museum


 “Now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”  Samuel 12:23


Could it be that it was too soon to return to business-as-usual at what was once the epicenter of trade and commerce for the world? Certainly for many it was, as some families of  victims of 9/11 were outraged over the fact that The National September 11 Memorial and Museum hosted a black-tie, invite-only affair Tuesday night that included among its guests, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Condé Nast corporate bigwigs. The affair was billed as a dedication ceremony for donors and dignitaries who shelled millions to help build the structure. 


The families were appalled at the fact that anyone would hold a swank cocktail party on what they felt was hallowed ground. President Obama himself called the site, where an estimated 8,000 unidentified human remains of victims are presently entombed, a “sacred place” at last week’s dedication of the museum. But was it ever concieveable that the site could maintain a sense of reverence? There will be restaurants, retail stores and 100 floors of office space built where people will surely be holding holiday parties, drinking, dancing, cajoling, doing all the things that make us alive, and human. A museum’s spokesperson said that to care for it, the not for profit organization that runs the museum relies heavily on private fundraising, donations and “revenue from ticketing and carefully selected keepsake items for retail.” 

In other words, it IS back to business as usual.

Just last Saturday, the remains of the 9/11 dead were entombed 70 feet below the surface of Ground Zero where the museum was built. They were brought there in vacuum-sealed plastic envelopes from their previous home at the city medical examiner’s office, escorted by an honor guard  procession of NYPD, FDNY and Port Authority Police Department vehicles.


Families of some of the victim had been in dispute over where to enshrine the remains with some agreeing upon the area where they now reside, while others wished for a less commercialized, more serene location in the park plaza. I myself can’t see why the former location was not considered the better choice. That would have been a kinder, gentler more humane move on the part of site planners and would have at least ensured that when people come to pay their respects, it would be less an atmosphere of a commerce circus and more a place to pray, commune and possibly contemplate about one’s own immortality. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the Memorial Plaza is indeed that kind of place.

The enshrning procession was picketed by a group of family members who considered the location chosen disrespectful. About a dozen of them stood arm in arm with black gags over their mouths in protest. Once the remains were interned underground, the protesters broke their silent vigil and began yelling in anger and frustration at the procession. They claimed to have felt left out, disenfranchised and disrespected because they had no say in the final decisions being made about their loved ones final resting place.

Once again, business as usual.

And yet, the living must go on living and we must leave the dead to bury the dead. My feelings are that those who have passed would prefer to remain alive and well in our hearts and minds, rather than embroiled in the memories of the manner in which they had died, which will only bring on more pain and sadness. I prefer to associate my remembrances of those who’ve transitioned with living souls existing in a plane parallel to ours, transformed into something of which I cannot conventionally see or hear, but intuitively knows exists. Like The Great Creator.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s