Volume 23, Number 4 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | June 4 - 10, 2010
First responders officially honored after nine years
BY Michael Mandelkern
Nearly nine years after the September 11th terrorist attacks, this Saturday will mark the first official commemoration of those who took part in the rescue, recovery, volunteer and clean-up mission during the aftermath.
On June 5, World Trade Center Responder Day will offer an array of free events in Lower Manhattan within close proximity to Ground Zero, including art workshops, a film showcase and concert.
The proceedings will begin at 10 a.m. with a bagpipe procession and 1st Police Precinct autocade down Worth St. and Broadway, followed by an opening ceremony at St. Paul’s Chapel, located on Fulton St. and Broadway, with Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler and other elected officials.
The day’s activities will conclude at the chapel with a candlelight moment.
Event organizers hope not only to honor those who served in the recovery effort but to also raise awareness of the emotional and physical health problems and financial woes many have suffered following 9/11.
“It’s a ‘thank you’ to responders,” said Dr. Michael Crane, a doctor at the WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, which provides both physical and mental medical treatment and benefits to roughly 26,000 ill responders. “Their participation in our programs helped us find out the medical consequences.”
He emphasized that the commemoration is not solely for those in uniform but all of the approximately 80,000 people that took part in the recovery during the months after 9/11. “Responders were folks who do rescue and recovery and also people who tried to restore services and then just folks who volunteered,” said Crane in reference to those who came from outside of New York.
While WTC Responder Day is not technically a national holiday and will not be officially recognized throughout the country, Crane hopes it becomes a nationally recognized event.
“People from all over the country literally took part in the disaster recovery,” said Crane. “The event is designed to let people know we are thinking of them.”
The day is yet to gain federal recognition but Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed June 5 “WTC Responder Day” in New York City on Tuesday.
“Their perseverance and compassion gave us reason to hope in those dark days following the attacks, and their selflessness and bravery continue to provide inspiration for us all,” said Bloomberg during his proclamation speech.
He also praised the WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program.
“Its efforts have made a significant difference in the lives of so many, and I applaud its commitment to giving back to some of our City’s greatest heroes,” said the mayor.
Crane hopes those who were not as directly impacted by 9/11 will also attend. “We need each other’s support,” he said.
The observance will take place two weeks after the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved $5.1 billion in funding for 9/11 first responders that have fallen ill, which was sponsored by Maloney and Nadler. The Senate has yet to set a date for the hearing.
“It’s real important,” said Crane in reference to the bill. “Only by examining people with those conditions can we come up with solutions.”
While the bill remains in congressional limbo, Paula Rodriguez, an NYPD medical technician, passed away Sunday. Her relatives believe the toxic fumes she breathed in while aiding the 9/11-rescue mission for several days following the attacks caused her death.
WTC Responder Day 2010 is sponsored by the Mount Sinai World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, firefighters, police officers and WTC “responder, faith-based, government and community entities,” according to a press release.
There will be maps and additional information available at St. Paul’s Chapel the day of the event. Those interested in attending could call the WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program Special Events Phone Line at 212.241.6307 for further inquiries or visit www.wtcexams.org.