Never Forget - Everyone who parished on Sept 11, 2001
Fifteen years ago. To some it can seem like an eternity, to others only yesterday, and then there are those who were not yet born, having no memory of that period at all.
Today, we will remember back those fifteen years to the clear fall morning of September 11, 2001. At 8:45 a.m. the first plane slammed into the North Tower. Not long afterwards, the second plane made its cowardly dive into the South Tower. The Pentagon took a direct hit and courageous passengers aboard United Flight 93 forced their plane down short of its intended target. Our nation was under attack and we were now at war.
We recall the emotions felt as we watched the smoking towers, knowing full well thousands of civilians were trapped on the upper floors by heat and fire.
We saw the images of sober faced firefighters, cops and other first responders as they headed towards those who were trapped in those buildings, some leaving notes to their loved ones on the rigs as they geared up. You could see in their eyes they knew the reality of what they were about to do, but they went ahead anyway and did their job.
By late morning, both towers had collapsed. Nearly three thousand lives were crushed out, including 343 brothers of the FDNY.
Immediately the surviving crews went into rescue mode. Thousands of trade workers descended on the scene to assist in whatever way possible. Unfortunately, there were few survivors and efforts now turned into the recovery of those who died.
Day after day we watched the work being done on the acrid, toxic pile of Ground Zero by firefighters, Police Officers and trade workers. They toiled in a carcinogenic plume of dust and smoke for months on end, trying to recover the remains of those lost so that their loved ones may find some form of peace.
But there has been a price to pay for their selfless service. Thousand of responders who worked the pile and residents in surrounding neighborhoods are coming down with cancer and other health related issues related to 9/11.
In the fifteen years since 9/11, nearly one hundred members of the FDNY have died of cancer or health related issues. This is on top of the thousands of other people who were exposed to Ground Zero and are now suffering the consequences. Fortunately, after years of shameful delay by Congress, the Zadroga Act is now fully funded and these victims will have some measure of health care for their illnesses.
As a nation, it is our responsibility and duty, to remember the sacrifices made by all those who perished on September 11, 2001. The magnitude of that day’s event in history must not be lost on our future generations. But is also our solemn duty to take care of those who worked Ground Zero. Our nation was in a time of need, they showed us the resolve to forge ahead against all odds and let our enemies know we will not be beaten down.
Fifteen year ago. We will each measure that amount of time in a different way. For some, September 11, 2001 was a long time ago. For others, the images, emotions and loss of loved ones are relived everyday. They have not forgotten and we must never forget.
Professional Fire Fighters of Maine/IAFF