15
Jan
06

Sacred Garbage

Fresh Kills landfill was reopened in 2001 to process the debris from the 9/11 attack. Evidence was carefully sifted out. Scrap was sold for recycling. And the “fines” (very fine debris) were buried on the old dump. Those “fines” will have included ashes from the people who burned in the inferno.

Now, the families are suing New York City to have the “fines” exhumed and reburied elsewhere, to make a more fitting memorial. The pathos of families trekking up West Mound to pay their last respects is quite indescribable (see Only the Dead Know Fresh Kills), but all the same it’s hard to resist the idea that the suit is the unfortunate result of an overinvestment in symbols and an example of a militant victim stance. Why not make a family memorial to honor the dead in that dead person’s favorite spot? Why not offer to do volunteer work for those in need rather than suing the city? How about creating a summer program for children who lost family members in the attack?

Life is so full of choices. Perhaps we don’t always have to choose for outrage and injury.

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