May 15th, 2014
10:21 AM ET
3 months ago

As Obama visits 9/11 museum, a call to intervene in dispute over remains

New York (CNN) - The mother of a New York City firefighter who died in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks says President Barack Obama should speak out in the long-running dispute over the placement of human remains at the 9/11 memorial museum.

Obama, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, toured the museum Thursday morning before speaking at a dedication ceremony. The museum, which opens to the public next week, will house unidentified remains from the terror attacks, which has left some victims' families outraged.

"Our sons died saving people in this city," said Sally Regenhard, whose 28-year-old son, Christian, died on 9/11. "They died for this city and for this country, and they're being treated as a museum exhibit. My son is being used as a marketing tool for the 9/11 museum."

Regenhard spoke to CNN outside the memorial museum on Thursday ahead of Obama's speech. She said that while she supports the President generally, she was "looking to him for leadership on this matter."

"It's devastating to us," she said. "Devastating,"

Families who oppose the current placement of the unidentified remains have advocated for a separate memorial for their loved ones. They say the underground museum is prone to flooding, and have said the $24 entrance fee is inappropriate for a place akin to a cemetery.

9/11 museum: Tragedy turns the mundane into memorial

Asked about the entrance fee on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the President was focused more on marking a significant point in the decade since 9/11.

"I'm not saying that those questions and debates and concerns aren't valid, but at this point the President and first lady will be focused on the memorial itself - not the memorial, but the museum itself and the events that it will provide an opportunity for so many people to recall because of the significance of that moment and its aftermath to our history and to so many people around the world," Carney said.

In 2011, 17 families of 9/11 victims petitioned a court to force the museum to consult with the families before deciding what to do with the remains. They also asked for a congressional hearing. Both efforts were unsuccessful.

9/11 Museum documentary stirs controversy on eve of opening

The remains will be stored behind a museum wall inscribed with a quote from the Roman poet Virgil: "No day shall erase you from the memory of time."

The medical examiner's office has custody of 7,930 unidentified remains, which account for 36% of the 21,906 remains recovered, according to the office's most recent statistics. The medical examiner will continue to work to identify the remains.

Families of the victims will be able to visit the repository's Reflection Room in the days before the museum's official opening on May 21. After that, they can schedule appointments to visit the private room.

– CNN's Kevin Liptak and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.


Filed under: 9/11 • New York • President Obama
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. smith

    @Silence-So you blame Bill Clinton for OK City bombing, th Cole bombing, the bombings in Africa, Waco, Ruby Ridge, and the 9/11 hijackers getting in the country, training, and setting the plan in motion?

    May 15, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Man, Pres. Obama makes headlines two days in a row, and the Obama haters are out in force once again. There has never been this level of disrespect, discord, and disdain for a POTUS by Americans in history.

    May 15, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The medical examiner's office has custody of 7,930 unidentified remains, which account for 36% of the 21,906 remains recovered, according to the office's most recent statistics. The medical examiner will continue to work to identify the remains."

    How heartbreaking that after all this time, we are still fighting one another over the 9/11 memorial; human remains; admittance fees; and any other details folks feel the need to squabble over as their "rights".

    More often than not, I feel Osama bin Laden won that battle and went to HIS death with the full realization that Americans can never be true to themselves without self made conflicts and squabbles pitting one against the other (and dragging the entire country into their squabbles).

    I agree with Don. If and when the unidentified remains ARE identified, it is for the family to decide where those remains will be interred permanently.

    May 15, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. Donna

    Rudy NYC
    Man, Pres. Obama makes headlines two days in a row, and the Obama haters are out in force once again. There has never been this level of disrespect, discord, and disdain for a POTUS by Americans in history.
    --

    There has never been this level of incompetence and lawlessness in the Oval Office before. Add to that the record unemployment for years, a stagnant economy and declining global power and influence and you se why Obama's approval numbers are in the tank. And then there are the endless stream of lies about numerous scandals from Obamacare to the NSa to the IRS. Actually, he is getting far more respect than he deserves. People are backing off criticism for fear of being called a racist.

    May 15, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. smith

    @Rudy-You must have been asleep back in 2004 til 2009. Bush was hated just as bad. So was Bill Clinton as matter of fact.

    May 15, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. Silence DoGood

    @smith
    @Silence-So you blame Bill Clinton for OK City bombing, th Cole bombing, the bombings in Africa, Waco, Ruby Ridge, and the 9/11 hijackers getting in the country, training, and setting the plan in motion?
    ---------–
    Yes I do on the condition that you acknowledge Bush was responsible for all the happened on his watch!
    So what did the commanders do?

    For "OK City bombing, the Cole bombing, Waco, Ruby Ridge", the criminals were caught or killed.

    For 9/11 Bush let Bin Laden get away and Obama had to take of it later.
    For the Iraq war, Bush invaded the wrong country and killed 1000's of US soldiers.

    Which commander gets the more severe punishment?

    May 15, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Rudy NYC
    Man, Pres. Obama makes headlines two days in a row, and the Obama haters are out in force once again. There has never been this level of disrespect, discord, and disdain for a POTUS by Americans in history.
    ----------

    Yes, well. Using the 9/11 memorial to ridicule the current President of the United States and his supporters is a bit droll in a warped kind of way.

    Personally, I expected nothing less from them.

    May 15, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. smith

    @Silence-First, I don`t blame Bush or Clinton. I blame the terrorist who actually did the acts. Second, Bush didn`t kill any of our soliders, terrorist and insurgents did that. Third, there is no evidence Bush let Bin Laden walk away.

    May 15, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Lynda/Minnesota wrote:

    "The medical examiner's office has custody of 7,930 unidentified remains, which account for 36% of the 21,906 remains recovered, according to the office's most recent statistics. The medical examiner will continue to work to identify the remains."

    How heartbreaking that after all this time, we are still fighting one another over the 9/11 memorial; human remains; admittance fees; and any other details folks feel the need to squabble over as their "rights".

    More often than not, I feel Osama bin Laden won that battle and went to HIS death with the full realization that Americans can never be true to themselves without self made conflicts and squabbles pitting one against the other (and dragging the entire country into their squabbles).

    I agree with Don. If and when the unidentified remains ARE identified, it is for the family to decide where those remains will be interred permanently.
    ---------------------------------
    If it's any consolation, "7930 unidentified" does not mean 7930 victims.

    Not every family with missing loved ones, is against the current arrangement. If the remains are unidentified, then what rights do the families really have? They are operating under the false assumption that their loved one's remains are part of these last remaining traces. It is just as likely that they are not.

    May 15, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    smith
    @Silence-First, I don`t blame Bush or Clinton. I blame the terrorist who actually did the acts.
    --------–

    Indeed, smith. As do I.

    May 15, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Silence DoGood and Wake up!:
    . I personally think of Obama as a great president doing a great job considering the terrorist abroad and here at home.
    -------------------------------------------------Co-signed.
    I guess folks on the [R]ong-side of the aisle would like to have THIS POTUS take out his pen and issue an Executive Order so that they can then turn around and accuse him of involving himself in things that are not his business, and acting like the Messiah Socialist Kenyan King that he must think himself to be...
    Simpleminded followers of the GOPeeing Teatards think this President can be set-up.
    They have spent 7 years setting traps for him to go to war with other countries, to make a mistake of Bush-magnitude, etc.
    He's too smart for them.
    Always has been and it is driving them bat$#it crazy.
    I'm sorry for the families BTW. I personally think it was in poor taste to have those remains there. But they appear to have exhausted whatever legal maneuvers were open to them to no avail.
    The other question however is: what do you with remains that you can't place to a particular person? Do you just dispose of them?
    -

    May 15, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    smith

    @Rudy-You must have been asleep back in 2004 til 2009. Bush was hated just as bad. So was Bill Clinton as matter of fact.
    --------------------------
    It has reached a new low water mark today.

    Oh sure, some political pundits and radio talk show hosts had their fun then and now. But, today we have elected officials getting into the act by calling Pres. Obama names like the "gangsta president". How about interrupting an address to joint session of Congress by yelling "you lie", and no one speaks out against it from the member's party? In fact, they go out celebrating and fund raising of off the incident.

    Sorry, you can deny it all you wish, but we have never seen this level of disdain for a POTUS ever before.

    May 15, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    smith
    Third, there is no evidence Bush let Bin Laden walk away.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Bush said that bin laden wasn't worth going after.
    That's letting him walk away in my book.
    Just like President Obama allowed Bush to walk away when he decided not to follow-up with those "crimes to humanity" thingy that's still hanging over Dubya to this day.
    Two passes.

    May 15, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. Silence DoGood

    @smith
    @Silence-First, I don`t blame Bush or Clinton. I blame the terrorist who actually did the acts. Second, Bush didn`t kill any of our soliders, terrorist and insurgents did that. Third, there is no evidence Bush let Bin Laden walk away.
    ----------
    Nice avoidance. Bush as Command in Chief put 1000's of US soldiers in harms way and they got killed invading the wrong place to find Al Qaeda or WMD which he wrongly claimed was a clear and present danger. Are you saying that this Commander in Chief has no responsibility? Seriously. Ask someone who has been in the military.

    May 15, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Donna
    People are backing off criticism for fear of being called a racist.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Oh for sure. I'm sure that's it.
    The racists don't want to remind folks that they are racists what with the mid-term elections just looming around the corner.
    Your GOPeeing Teatards are on damage control, dontchakno. Trying to make people forget just who they are and have been these past 6 years.
    Let's see how your ilk behaves AFTER the mid-terms before we get too happy shall we?

    May 15, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. Tampa Tim

    Only a RWNJ would be stupid enough to ignore the total incompetence of the Bush reign of error.

    May 15, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. Tampa Tim

    When the incompetent commander in chief invades the wrong country, and thousands of our troops are killed, there is blood on his hands.

    May 15, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. Tom l

    Lynda,

    Do you mean Silence's posts, too? I couldn't agree more that using 9/11 for partisan posts is totally lame on either side. And both sides are doing it right here

    May 15, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. CryBabies

    SDG...Obama just continued the same search tactics that were put in place by Bush. Finally Bin Laden was killed. Obama did nothing extraordinary on his watch. " A blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile." Just the way it is.

    May 15, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  20. tom l

    "Man, Pres. Obama makes headlines two days in a row, and the Obama haters are out in force once again. There has never been this level of disrespect, discord, and disdain for a POTUS by Americans in history."
    =====

    The Great Pontificator, Rudy, forgets about how the Speaker of House referred to Bush as a total failure. He also forgets about the time that Harry Reid called him a loser and a liar. He also forgets that Al Gore referred to him as a traitor. Oh, and all of the signs depicting Bush as Hitler were not very respectful, either. Oh, wasn't there also a movie with Bush being assassinated?

    Am I making any of these up? Before Rudy tries to say that I am, just google all of these and see if I'm wrong on any of them. You will find, once again Rudy, that I am not making any of these facts up.

    May 15, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    Tom l
    Lynda,

    Do you mean Silence's posts, too? I couldn't agree more that using 9/11 for partisan posts is totally lame on either side. And both sides are doing it right here
    -----------------

    Indeed they are, Tom I.

    May 15, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. Silence DoGood

    @CryBabies
    SDG...Obama just continued the same search tactics that were put in place by Bush. Finally Bin Laden was killed. Obama did nothing extraordinary on his watch. " A blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile." Just the way it is.
    ---------–
    Since you seem to have such a commanding grasp on things, why don't you answer my simple question:
    Bush as Command in Chief put 1000's of US soldiers in harms way and they got killed invading the wrong place to find Al Qaeda or WMD which he wrongly claimed was a clear and present danger. Are you saying that this Commander in Chief has no responsibility?

    May 15, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    The Great Pontificator, Rudy, forgets about how the Speaker of House referred to Bush as a total failure. He also forgets about the time that Harry Reid called him a loser and a liar. He also forgets that Al Gore referred to him as a traitor. Oh, and all of the signs depicting Bush as Hitler were not very respectful, either. Oh, wasn't there also a movie with Bush being assassinated?

    Am I making any of these up? Before Rudy tries to say that I am, just google all of these and see if I'm wrong on any of them. You will find, once again Rudy, that I am not making any of these facts up.
    -------------------------------
    You're not making any of it up, just exaggerating it a bit. Neither am I denying any of it occurred. Reid did call Bush a liar, which he rightly deserved, and Reid later apologized. Gore wasn't an elected official. I've said that it is worse than ever before. You're manufacturing arguments again, tom, with juvenile attempts to put words into my mouth.

    Meanwhile, elected Republicans have crossed the line so many times that they've seem to have forgotten that there is supposed to be one. Shouting down the POTUS during a joint session of Congress, and then being welcomed like a hero and fund raising of it. Keep the conversation to elected officials, tom, if you do not mind.

    May 15, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. tom l

    "How about interrupting an address to joint session of Congress by yelling "you lie", and no one speaks out against it from the member's party? In fact, they go out celebrating and fund raising of off the incident. "
    =====

    Once again, Rudy making up his own "facts". Not only did Wilson immediately apologize profusely but guess who it was that capitalized off of that with a boon in fundraising??? That person would be his opponent in the midterm election, Rob Miller. John McCain, Jerry Lewis and 7 republicans voted formally to rebuke him. Not one repub politician supported him. Rudy's having a bad day.

    May 15, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. smith

    @Silence-I didn`t avoid anything, that is my personal veiw. I don`t have to ask anyone in the service because I was in the service under Bush and Obama. I was in Iraq all of 2009 and I don`t blame Obama for the Iraqi people and US soliders that were killed.

    May 15, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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