As New York City and the nation remember the lives tragically lost and the incredible heroism displayed thirteen years ago today, we must not forget the New Yorkers from all walks of life who responded to the attacks.
I’m talking about those who rushed to Ground Zero to dig for survivors through smoky, dust-filled rubble; those who worked round-the-clock on cleanup; and those who returned to the surrounding neighborhoods when officials declared the air safe to breathe when it was not.
Almost 55,000 New Yorkers and nearly 5,000 New Jerseyans are participating in the World Trade Center Health Program. Some 30,000 responders, workers, and residents have at least one illness or injury caused by the attacks or their aftermath and are receiving treatment. As a result of exposure to the toxins released by the attacks, at least 2,900 have been certified with a cancer by a medical panel created under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (a five-year program that must be renewed in 2016). Included in those who are ill are over 800 FDNY and 550 NYPD personnel who have had to leave their jobs. Over 70 firefighters and 60 police officers have died from their illnesses since 9/11; in fact, more NYPD officers have died from their injuries after 9/11 than died that day.
These men and women deserve their own monument—a permanent recognition of their courage, service, and personal sacrifice in and around Ground Zero in the weeks and months after the attacks. Such a monument is a valuable and utterly necessary addition to the experience provided by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Categories: Policy & Initiatives