Dear ASCLD Colleagues,
This weekend was the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; on the Pentagon just outside of Washington, D.C.; and on the plane that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people — more than 400 were police officers, firefighters and first responders. Most of us can remember exactly where we were when that first plane hit the twin towers. I hope we will never forget the courageous behavior of the first responders — the ones who went into the towers to try to help when everyone else was running out. And the desperate bravery of the passengers who rushed the cockpit and brought the plane down in Pennsylvania to prevent greater loss of life in D.C. Or the paramedics and military personnel who attended to the wounded at the Pentagon. As the details of the disaster dim in our memories, let us never forget the sacrifice of all those brave souls who responded so selflessly in the chaos and destruction. Though September 11, 2001, becomes a more and more distant memory, history is still being made each day — by all of us. By the way we live our lives. By the way we conduct ourselves in difficult times. By how willing we are to put the needs of others before our own. By how well we love each other. 9/11 is forever engraved in our history. But how we respond to its impact is still being written, even 20 years later. Now it is our history to make.

The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) with the support of the International Symposium for Human Identification produced an excellent documentary that I highly encourage you to watch. “Stay Strong: NYC OCME Reflects on 9/11” available here,, demonstrates the untiring commitment of forensic scientists to our work. They have worked tirelessly from behind the scenes, away from the spotlight, testing and retesting 22,000 body parts recovered from the wreckage. They continue this work with the intent of providing resolution for the 1,106 victims who have yet to be identified. I thank them for their dedication and keep them in my prayers as they continue their endeavor.

As we work our day-to-day “jobs” analyzing cases, remember that our work has significant impact on victims, their families, those accused, and as such, we must commit to providing objective science to bring resolution. We matter even if we operate behind the scenes. Please recognize the work of your laboratories during the week of September 19th when the spotlight is focused on us during National Forensic Science Week. They have earned it.

Laura Sundkamp
ASCLD President