The Source: Book Explores Identifying Remains 15 Years After 9/11

Oct 24, 2016

9/11 created the world's largest crime scene. There were 2,753 people killed; 293 of the bodies were found intact; 21,900 body fragments were found in the debris and 1,113 people are unidentified.

Days after the terrorist attack on 9/11 at the World Trade Center, it was announced that the search for survivors was over and the task of focusing on finding remains would begin. A promise was made that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner would do "whatever it took to identify the source of every single human remain recovered from the WTC site, no matter how small."

That was a huge pledge - maybe bigger than could be accomplished, but it was what many of the family members needed to hear at the time. The hunt to find and identify the human remains at the World Trade Center became a task that was matched in size by only the enormity of the grief of the victims' family.

Dealing with victims’ remains and personal property tested the sensitivity of our culture. Our instinct is to carefully bury and honor our dead - how was this accomplished?

Guest: Jay Aronson, associate professor of science, technology and society in the history department at Carnegie Mellon University and author of "Who Owns the Dead? The Science and Politics of Death at Ground Zero"