An appropriate addition was made this year to New York City’s memorial plaza honoring those killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A half-dozen granite stacks of stone now salute the firefighters, police officers, Port Authority officers and emergency response personnel who gave their lives at the Twin Towers to save others.
On a related note, Congress and President Donald Trump have approved a permanent extension of the funding for the Victim Compensation Fund. The fund, which would have run out of money by late 2020, remains in great need as major health woes weigh on a significant number of 9/11 first responders.
New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro notes the toll for his department’s personnel and their families: “It is almost incomprehensible that, after losing 343 members on Sept. 11, we have now had 200 more (Fire Department of New York) members die from World Trade Center illnesses. These heroes gave their lives bravely fighting to rescue and recover others. We will never forget them.”
In the Omaha area on Saturday, participants at Werner Park commendably paid tribute to the 9/11 first responders through the third annual Nebraska 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. Climbers or walkers, each with a badge depicting a firefighter or police officer who died on 9/11, traveled the equivalent of the World Trade Center’s 110 stories. As the participants finished, they rang a bell and read the name of the first responder they represented. Funds raised go to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
“This was a little bit of suffering for which we knew we signed up for. And we’re going to go home afterwards,” said Katie Brown, with Lincoln Fire & Rescue. “Which is a night and day difference from what those first responders went through that day.”
First responders make invaluable contributions in helping others. It’s fitting that on this day of remembrance, Americans acknowledge and honor all those harmed by the 9/11 atrocities, including the firefighters, police and others who selflessly put themselves in harm’s way in service to fellow Americans.