Today, more than 100 first responders are walking the halls of Congress to lobby lawmakers to reauthorize and make permanent the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, named for NYPD detective,the first death by respiratory disease attributed to work at Ground Zero. He spent 450 hours there.
Following 9/11, America fairly throbbed with patriotism, nationalism and enough bloodthirsty revenge that allowed George Bush to launch a war on the wrong guy. We’ve recovered our senses since then, but the names of the people lost at the World Trade Center and Pentagon are still recited out loud, as they should be.
But there are other names and we have a chance to do more than remember them; the survivors and those who rushed in, then stayed to do what had to be done.
More than 33,000 9/11 responders and survivors have an illness or injury from the attacks or the aftermath; many have more than one, are disabled or cannot work. There are cancers, and many lung diseases from the toxic soup of concrete, gasoline, asbestos, chemicals, toxic fibers, vaporized human tissue and unknowns.
Those knocking on congressional doors today can skip the entire NJ delegation. Every one of them is a co-sponsor – in both the House and Senate, though predictably Scott Garrett had to be shamed into signing.
There’s no better place to spend our tax dollars than securing the care of those who take care of us. That includes our veterans, but it must also include those for whom 9/11 is no distant tragedy glimpsed through waving flags, but daily pain, fear and loss.
Let’s get this done.