By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The father of a firefighter killed in the Sept. 11 attack is blasting a proposal by the developers of the soon-to-be constructed 9/11 museum to house the remains of unidentified victims in the below-ground space.
Speaking at a Sept. 11 remembrance in Bay Ridge Tuesday night, Deputy Fire Chief James Riches urged residents to “call, text, and contact the mayor to oppose this plan.”
Riches’ son, Jimmy Riches, 29, a firefighter assigned to Engine Co. 4 in Manhattan, was killed in the attack.
Some 9,000 sets of remains that have yet to be identified were recovered from Ground Zero in the weeks and months following the terrorist attack. Putting those remains in the museum would be an insult to the families of the victims, Riches said. “The 9/11 families should not have to pay a fee to see their loved ones’ remains,” he said.
It would especially hurt, according to Riches, because many families did not get the opportunity for closure due to the fact that their relatives’ bodies were never identified.
The remains of Jimmy Riches were found in the rubble of hat was once the World Trade Center in March, 2002. James Riches and his sons helped carry the flag-draped body out of the pile of rubble.
Instead of housing the remains of the unidentified victims in the museum, the city should build a special place on the plaza at the World Trade Center site, “like a tomb of the unknowns,” Riches said. “The unidentified body parts should not be part of the museum. They should be above ground,” he said.
Riches also expressed unhappiness with the way Mayor Michael Bloomberg handled the 11th Anniversary of Sept. 11 at the World Trade Center site that morning.
The ceremony was low-key this year, with no elected officials in attendance. “That wasn’t the families’ idea, to not invite the politicians. It was the mayor’s idea,” he said. “We love the politicians. They’ve done a lot for the families. They passed the law to give health coverage to the people who worked for months at the site,” he said, referring to the James Zagroda Health and Compensation Act, a federal law.
The mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.