Few have shown greater bravery than the first responders who rushed to the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks. A new plan to add an additional memorial to the broader 9/11 Memorial will give these brave men and women the recognition they deserve.
The new memorial will consist of ceremonial mounds along a walking path, which extends all the way to the Survivor Tree. Steel that was recovered from the World Trade Center after the attacks will be built into the mounds. Visitors will have the opportunity to touch this steel as they pass through the memorial.
While the project honors all first responders, it is specifically devoted to those who contracted health problems as a result of their service. The attacks released toxic dust and harmful fumes into the air. First responders then breathed these toxins in for long periods of time, causing serious lung damage and raising their risk of everything from breathing trouble to acid reflux to various cancers to black lung disease. Dozens of these heroes have died, while hundreds more developed severe chronic health issues that affect them to this day.
Recognizing first responders in the 9/11 Memorial is part of a broader state and national effort to provide justice and support for all who risked their lives for their country after the attacks. These efforts also include a recent bipartisan bill introduced in the New York Legislature that would provide all first responders in New York State with unlimited sick leave; they can use this to access treatments for health issues caused by the work they did following 9/11. This bill comes after another law passed last year that granted unlimited sick leave to public employees who were 9/11 first responders, even if they worked for public agencies outside of the city.
The memorial and related efforts have attracted support from celebrities and advocates throughout New York and the rest of the country. Comedian Jon Stewart, who has long advocated for first responders, spoke at the event where this plan was unveiled. He expressed hope that “this will become a place of solace, a place of belonging, and a place of gathering where you can experience the comfort of each other’s company and the knowledge that this story will be told indelibly, in stone.”
Barasch & McGarry supports this new memorial and all other initiatives to honor and aid 9/11 first responders. As the law firm that advocated for James Zadroga, a New York City Police Detective who developed black lung during cleanup and rescue operations on 9/11, we fully understand the bravery of first responders as well as the importance of giving them the support they need. We look forward to learning more about the memorial as plans are developed further, and await the day it is complete.
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