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Why Is NYC Waging A New War On Its Own Surviving 9/11 First Responders?

by David Badash on August 24, 2011

in News,Politics

Post image for Why Is NYC Waging A New War On Its Own Surviving 9/11 First Responders?

There appears to be a new war on the surviving 9/11 first responders, those brave men and women, often firemen and policemen, who were among the first on the scene of New York City’s World Trade Center attacks. The Republican candidate in a New York City special election to fill shamed former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner’s seat, Republican Bob Turner, says the new 9/11 first responders law should not cover volunteers who were sickened, as a result of their selfless efforts. Add to that the news that NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg has not invited the first responders to next month’s tenth anniversary ceremony, and you really have to wonder, why is New York City waging a war against the very people who saved the lives of so many, and who helped clean up when no one else could, during the worst attack in its history?

The New York Daily News reports Turner’s thoughts on the bill today:

“I think it is a little too broad,” Turner said.

“My call would be to protect police, fire, emergency workers, construction workers, etc.

“If someone said, ‘I volunteered’ or walked through there, it’s just not the type,” added Turner, who faces Democrat David Weprin in the Sept. 13 special election.

The Zadroga bill, named after late NYPD Detective James Zadroga, was pushed through the House in a bipartisan effort led by New York Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan), Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) and Pete King (R-Nassau).

The three have noted in joint statements that “the collapse of the Trade Center towers released a cloud of poisons, including carcinogens, throughout lower Manhattan.”

Activists and lawmakers who struggled to pass the bill blasted Turner for missing the point.

“That day [9/11], and for months after, there were no uniforms. Volunteers worked next to rescue crews for weeks,” said John Feal, a 9/11 activist and former construction supervisor who lost half his foot at Ground Zero.

“For Bob Turner to turn his back on those New Yorkers, but use images of the burning towers in campaign ads – a circus monkey can out-politic Bob Turner, he’s an embarrassment to the Republican Party,” fumed Feal.

Turner, a former television executive, has made his opposition to a planned mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero a key plank of his campaign.

In a recent campaign ad, he used footage of the smoking twin towers to blast Weprin for supporting the mosque developer’s legal right to build there.”

And then there’s this from Fox News:

“They were the first ones on the scene when the World Trade Center towers fell on September 11, 2001, but ten years later, the first responders are being told that they will not be invited to take part in this year’s tenth anniversary ceremony at Ground Zero.

The city announced earlier this week that due to security and space issues, there would be no room for the first responders. Instead, they’ll be invited to a private ceremony on a different date.

Retired NYPD officer Anthony Flammia told FOX News, “I’m absolutely disgusted.”

He said the exclusion was “a total disrespect to the responders … it’s very easy for them to make the space for us.”

WIBX adds,

“Many of the 3,000 firefighters, police officers, and other city employees who’ve been excluded feel the decision was made to try to hide the medical ailments many of them are now suffering. ‘It’ll bring up the fact that we’re basically walking dead and that we’re not being treated,’ remarked first responder Bonnie Giebfried.”

There certainly was enough room for the 9/11 first responders when we needed their help. There’s enough room now. They should have been the first on the invitation list.

What happens the next time New York City is attacked? Don’t say it won’t happen — it already has. Anyone want to remember the Times Square Bomber? Remember who were the first to recognize a problem and take action? T-shirt vendors.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, with uniforms and without.

If you want there to be a hero the next time, treat these ones with respect.

I live next to a firehouse in New York City. I was here on 9/11. Every single fireman in the firehouse left and never came back. We owe their memory, and the memory of those who were on the ground saving lives, sometimes giving theirs, more than this.

Pay their bills, invite them to the ceremony. Seriously, this is even a debate? Shame on us all.

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