(Note for the confused. I first made the mistake of posting this without a title and the only way I could figure out to correct the mistake was by trashing the first post and reposting with a title. MS)
I happen to be in the US right now where you’d have to be unconscious to fail to notice the anniversary of 9/11 yesterday.
The good news is that here have been several interesting articles in the media over the last few days that are pertinent to the subject of casualty recording.
This one is about a first responder who was evacuated early in the rescue operation due to a serious injury. Thus, he avoided some slow-burning health effects, many of which lead to death, that many of his colleagues suffered. He now dedicates himself to helping 9/11 first responders and their families.
The article leads to a list of names of fallen first responders engraved on this wall.
Next, Jay Aronson gives us a teaser for his new book on the attention paid to and myriad controversies surrounding the 2,753 people killed in the Twin Towers. The official commitment to scientifically identify all of the human remains found near the site are beyond anything in previous forensic history. Yet, as Aronson explains, these policies for the treatment of dead bodies have evolved out of a long historical process.
This is the first time the blog has touched on forensic identification of human remains but it is a natural extension of the concept of casualty recording which is about listing names and other pieces of vital information about victims of armed conflict. Forensic identification can contribute to making sound lists of victims but it is clear that this purpose was, at best, a small part of the motivation for all the forensic work on 9/11. Rather, the forensics were about showing respect for the victims and their families as well as for signalling something to the perpetrators of the atrocity and their supporters.
It becomes a forever war. It may be that we redefine war and get it out of the notion of a finite undertaking and have to view military operations in much the same way that we look at law enforcement. That is, while we expect police to bring perpetrators to justice, we don’t operate under any illusion that at some point the police will defeat crime.
In other words, we don’t expect the police to completely eliminate all risks of violent crime so why do we expect our governments to completely eliminate the (far lower) risks of terrorism?