Volume 20, Number 48 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 24 - 30, 2010
The U.S. must come to the aid of its 9/11 heroes
BY U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
On Sept. 11, 2001, when thousands of innocent men and women lost their lives, tens of thousands more came to their assistance. We as a nation saw greater acts of heroism than we could have imagined: First-responders from all over New York and all over the country came to Ground Zero to save innocent lives, provide proper burial for lives that were lost, and assist in the enormous effort to clean up and recover from that devastating attack on our nation.
Tragically, in the nine years since the attack, more than 30,000 responders and survivors from across the country have had to receive medical treatment due to their exposure to Ground Zero toxins and are waiting for Congress to pass legislation to ensure that they can continue to get the care they need. Approximately 16,600 individuals from Manhattan are enrolled in the WTC Health Registry.
Our 9/11 heroes didn’t think twice that day. Bound by duty, a love of our nation and their fellow Americans, they joined hand-in-hand with heroes from every corner of America to come to our rescue.
Now, it’s long past time we came to theirs. Nine years ago, no one could have imagined that our nation would ignore our duty to the 9/11 heroes. Nine years ago, no one could have imagined that our country would leave these heroes behind.
But over all these years, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, the bill that can bring care to those who’ve fallen ill, has been tied up by politics as usual in Congress.
This should not be a partisan fight. We have an undeniable, moral obligation to provide our 9/11 heroes with all the care they need.
In September, the bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s time to keep our promise to them, and pass this bill in the U.S. Senate during the lame duck session of Congress. We can’t afford to wait any longer. We’ve already lost too many of our heroes and loved ones to the toxins of Ground Zero. And we’re losing more each day.
I’m urging my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do what they know is right, and support this legislation.
The men and women who lived through and came to our rescue on 9/11 were not Democrats or Republicans or Independents. They were Americans first and foremost, and so were the people they saved. It’s time for us in Congress to honor their sacrifices by coming together as Americans, and keeping our promise to provide them with the care they need to save their lives.