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Families of New York Sept. 11 Victims Press Concerns on Anniversary


The progress of an independent investigation into the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and the future of the World Trade Center site top the list of concerns for relatives of the victims on the eve of the second anniversary of the disaster.

Families of people killed in the attacks say they are determined to find answers.

A coalition of groups representing victims' family articulated their concerns at a news conference Wednesday.

Sally Regenhard lost her 28-year old son, a probationary firefighter, in the World Trade Center. The founder of a group called the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, she has been at the forefront of the fight for reform of building codes and evacuation procedures.

She says New York City recently adopted international building standards. But she remains disappointed that her group, along with the New York Times, had to fight in court for the recent release of Port Authority police transcripts from inside the towers on September 11. "We will never change the past. We will never safeguard the future unless we really know what happened in those buildings and how we can change that," he said.

Mrs. Regenhard had called for a federal investigation into the cause of the attacks almost immediately after September 11. Now, family groups say they are disappointed that the Independent Commission into the attacks has yet to release its findings, although half the time allotted to the inquiry has already elapsed.

Carol Ashley of the Family Steering Committee lost her 25-year old daughter in the attacks. She says that the group has sent the Commission a list of recommendations and questions that have yet to be answered.

"The families of the dead and all Americans deserve some accountability from our government for its failure to protect us on 9/11," she said.

While some of the relatives of victims are focusing on the investigation and litigation, many say they are worried about the future of unidentified remains still at a New York landfill.

Jack Lynch lost his son, a firefighter, in the attacks. Mr. Lynch spent months removing debris and searching for body parts at the World Trade Center. He says unidentified and unidentifiable remains must be returned to the World Trade Center site and become part of a future memorial.

"My God, how anybody could not want to bring the unidentified remains, in the event that they are never identified, down to Ground Zero is beyond me," he said. "I can not understand (it is) a simple concept that where they died that have to be returned to and with honor and respect. And I hope that will happen."

Mr. Lynch and scores of relatives of victims have also called on officials to halt any plans to build on the "footprints" or bedrock beneath the site of the World Trade Center towers. But after weeks of protests against its rebuilding plans, the organization in charge of revitalizing lower Manhattan announced that it will never build commercial or retail space where the towers stood. Rather, the group says it will build a memorial "that will make the entire nation proud."

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