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They originally said it would take two years to clean up, but here we are not even eight months later and the cleanup phase is over.

There are still 1,700 or so bodies that have not been recovered. That's 1,700 families that will not get any kind of closure.

I know it is impossible to find the remains of every last one of them. But eight months seems like such a short time to be looking, considering the huge pile of debris that lies where the towers once stood.

For the families, it means an end to any hope they had of finding something of their loved ones. If not their bodies, then maybe a wallet or a shoe or anything that will represent the person they lost.

For the firemen who have been working there, it means leaving the recovery site and going back to their firematic duties. It means that eight months later, their hopes are being quashed, and the only thing that was giving them a sense of meaning at the moment is gone.

For the city, it means clearing the land for more business, more money, more taxes.

It had to happen eventually. But not yet. Not now. Not when the grief is still fresh and the hope was still there for some and the wounds hadn't even scabbed over yet.

At 10:29 a.m., as the last beam is taken from the site and a flag draped stretcher representing the unaccounted for victims is marched out of the rubble, millions will watch as we are symbolicaly told to close this chapter and move on to the next.

Maybe it's just me. See, I'm stuck on this chapter. I can't get to the end because I keep putting the damn book down.

I no longer read news stories about it. I don't watch tv specials reliving the horror. I close my eyes as I walk past that section in the bookstore that displays the hundreds of books already printed in rememberance of September 11, 2001.

Everything is still fresh. People are still adjusting to this new world, the one where the New York City skyline has changed forever, the world where the sight of a plane overhead brings chills, where the sound of sirens brings fear, where you dread to turn on the news in the morning, the world where the sun visor of my car holds the funeral card for Pete Ganci.

I'm sure there are many people who are ready to move on and welcome today's symbolic pageantry. I think I'm just not ready to start living in this new world because I have yet to let go of the old one. The sense of safety and peace and freedom has been taken from us, and to watch the ceremony and accept the end of the cleanup is to accept the new way of life.

I'm just not ready. Go on without me, I'll catch up.


Well you're not alone. Many of us can't move so fast forward. Even those of us very far away.

I was surprised to hear that "the last beam" would be taken down. It seemed so symbollic - like they'd want to leave something standing. Something to testify that the rest of the building was once there. Some last resistant piece defiant to be removed.

You're definitely not alone.

Even though it doesn't come into my mind as often as it did a few months ago, I still think about it at least 10 times a day - and I'm thousands of miles away. It doesn't help that I have a picture on my desk from the last time I was there. I just can't take it down though.

I do think it's time to move on. However, that is easy for me to say as the one person I knew that was in a tower got out safely. I do wish they had left that last beam though. It would have been a perfect monument to those that perished in the attack.

I'm with you - it's not time to move on yet...

We have to try to keep perspective.

The beam is not being melted down, just moved.

The recovery effort will consistantly continue at Fresh Kills, where everything was brought.

These families still have a chance at getting their closure - just not directly from downtown Manhattan.

The people who have been at Ground Zero for the past 262 days were not on a site clean-up. They were on a mission. A mission to get to the bottom and make sure that every last effort was put forth. It only took 8 months, because they were digging for their friends and fellow citizens. You don't take your time doing that. You work 24/7 and get it done.

The wounds for all are true and deep, so try not to expect your emotions to move on at the same rate.

Don't know if you've seen this or not yet - a great photographic tribute.

i too am not ready to accept the symbolic "end" of the recovery and clean-up effort. nor am i ready to accept the books, tv specials, videos, etc., etc. that "commemorate" sept. 11. i'm from somerset, pa, a small town that is about 5 miles south of shanksville (where the last plane went down). i still get a twinge of apprehension every time i see an aircraft that appears to be flying a little bit low, still freaked out by the masses of people who have been coming to our little town to see the crash site.

Your anonymous commenter had it right. This is a "symbolic" end to the cleanup effort. All that has been removed from the WTC site is being meticulously searched, in the confines of a lower-profile laboratory, and there is no timeframe set for the end of this phase of the recovery effort.

I only hope that as identifications continue to be made, they will be publicized with the same urgency and respect that has accompanied reports of other victim recoveries.

The anonymous commenter was my sister, Lisa. She just forgot to put her name.

But I do think she had a good point with The wounds for all are true and deep, so try not to expect your emotions to move on at the same rate.

I am not ready either.

I feel a loss that the cleanup effort is concluding. I fear that with it gone from view, it will be too easy to put it behind and forget.

It would be better for every family still left without their loved one's body to have some kind of proof. But I'm not sure more time would fix that, given the extremes of weather since then, the heat of the fire, the pressure of all that debris.

It's not over, though. These "milestones" tear my heart out. I still cry far too easily over everything. ...

Talking to the people around me, regardless of whether or not it's "time," I don't think we're moving on yet.

I really really can't read the stories any more. I landed on one the other day, and got about two paragraphs in and couldn't read any further....it was about last messages from the people inside. And I don't even have the immediacy that you do.

Still, I look around the world, and every day people are dying and being killed, and sometimes I feel like a God, frantically worrying about all the sparrows, and eventually, I have to remove myself from it and think about things I can do or change. ThaT's the only way I can deal with this, I guess.

I can say that at least having lived in the OKC metro area during the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing, although on a much smaller scale which didn't even seem imaginable at the time, it never goes away. Clean-up and recovery stops. Memorials are erected. But the pain stays there forever. It only takes a song. A certain breeze. A certain color to the sky. And it all comes back all over again. You cry tears you didn't think you had left in you. And it never stops hurting.

Tonight I saw an interview with a WTC victim's family member, and they said to them, today was a judge on high symbolically sentencing them to live with this for the rest of their life. I don't know that it could be viewed any other way. You just don't get "closure" when things like this happen. Ever. You move on, but you don't let go.

ah, at least wwith distance over here, we can laugh - today we saw the phtographic tribute book for 70 bucks (no, noe of it was going to the victims families) and there were these shots of the buildings coming down, people running, and then someone wispering into dubya's ear as he holds a childrens book - so touching

Hi Everyone,

I am going to try to make a few comments here and will ask your forgiveness if I should get emotional.

First, about myself. I enlisted in the Army in 1972 and spent eight years there. Following that I enlisted in the Navy and remained there till 1993. I am a flag waver. I strongly believe in my country and will always fight for her. Does it hurt every time I see a picture or story of what happened that day and the days shortly after? It hurts very much. I spent 21 years of my life defending this country and what we believe in. Then I see her treated like this.

Second. I must commend the people that have spent the past months clearing the rubble of the WTC. You have to know in your hearts that the reason it was completed so fast is because they were looking for remains.

Third. We must never forget this. It does not matter that the last steel beam has been removed or that the last chunk of concrete has been hauled away. We, as a nation, as a people, can never forget this.

Some poeple will be affected for life by this whole thing. Some have already forgotten it. But we all must go on.

I find that at my age now, I have a tendacy to be more emotional about many things. I laugh a little harder at things and I cry a little harder at things.

Lately, I just wonder where all the other people like me are. Patriots use to be the majority here. But I am afraid we have become a minority.

I am really starting to ramble now so I will go. Sorry if I have offended anyone with my thoughts.

God Bless

You didn't offend at all, Gunner. You have a right to your opinion and you stated it without being arrogant about it. Thanks.