The remains of 1,113 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center — 40 percent of the 2,753 who perished — still haven't been identified, an issue that both haunts and divides families on how best to honor them, NBC News reports.
A repository underneath the twin towers' site, and adjacent to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, is where unidentified remains are now stored — but some families say the unidentified dead deserve an above-ground memorial like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
"The room has no sanctity, no religiosity, no atmosphere or respect like an interfaith chapel would," Sally Regenhard, whose son, Christian Regenhard, was a probationary firefighter who died responding to the attacks, tells NBC News.
Others families find great comfort in the "Reflection Room," which opened in 2014.
"This is a place I have to go, because that's where they took their last breath," Monica Iken-Murphy, whose husband, Michael Patrick Iken, died in the trade center's south tower, tells NBC News.
"That was the only place I felt connected with Michael. Others feel the same way; they have no other place to go."
She has since become a proponent of the museum and repository, telling NBC News, "I wanted to make sure their remains were at a final resting point. Even if they're not identified, they're still there. I get solace there. I can go any time. And that has helped the healing process."
Another supporter of the repository is Charles Wolf, whose wife, Katherine Wolf, died in the north tower.
"I don't know if any of Katherine is in there," Wolf tells NBC News. "But I walk into that museum and I feel like it's partly mine. There's a feeling of ownership."
Russell Mercer. whose stepson, Scott Kopytko, a firefighter who died in 9/11, disagrees.
"If you have remains, you know that he came back to your family," he tells NBC News. "You know a place you can stand and talk to him. But I'm talking to the wind, that's who I'm talking to. There's nothing there."
Yet he holds out hope.
"You have to be positive," he tells NBC News. "If you don't, you're going to drive yourself crazy. Maybe it won't happen in my lifetime, maybe my daughter will get it. But I think they will find him."
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