Time is running a photo documentary about the first responders after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Cancer, asthma, burns, rashes, permanent injury, previously unknown illnesses and a lack of proper compensation and basic acknowledgment came after the horror of watching their brothers in arms die, swallowed up by two massive buildings in an unprecedented collapse; a building failure by fire that has never been seen in modern or pre-modern engineering.
It was the worst disaster in the history of firefighting, and after the immediate suffering, the funerals, 21-gun salutes and taps, comes the slow painful torture of knowing the people your friends died saving and that you are now dying for aren’t behind you. It’s disturbing.
Police officers, firemen, soldiers, transit workers and construction workers didn’t ask if the concrete dust was toxic or the fumes, vapors and pulverized particles would make them sick. They didn’t ask for proof that that might get sick by doing their duty, the know that they will get sick from doing their duty. And in the weeks and months after September 11, 2001, they didn’t hesitate at the thought that the river of dust in New York might not be all too healthy.
They were to busy being called heroes by opportunistic politicians.
Well they don’t consider themselves heroes, and they don’t need to be called heroes to do what they do. They perform a brave, self-destructive job that 99 percent of people simply can’t physically or emotionally handle. They get shot at, breathe in smoke, climb onto roofs of burning buildings and they die, regularly, in a horrible and noble order of men and women.
They deserve to be taken care of. They do not deserve funding withheld, and they should not have to prove that their concrete-powder-related respiratory illnesses were directly caused by their work at Ground Zero. A report from WNBC Nov. 2 shows a nun, who spent several days at Ground Zero comforting victims and blessing the deceased, died of lung disease and requested a autopsy be performed on her after her death to prove that the respiratory illness that would go on to take her life and many others was connected to September 11 debris.
She shouldn’t have to had to prove anything. Common sense dictates that when you’re surrounded by toxic particles for days, you may get sick. Now many of the rescuers are being denied compensation and health care reimbursement as a result.
We’re going to have a new government in January. Let’s hope some lessons have been learned.