It’s sad enough that for the rest of time, citizens of the United States will stop, bow their heads and say a prayer for the victims of the 9-11 attack. I think we all remember where we were, what we were doing and how we were glued to televisions and radios as this horrible day, eleven years ago, unfolded.
Some of us knew passengers on the four planes, or had a friend who never got out of the towers. Maybe we knew someone who was trapped at the Pentagon or on United flight #93 when it crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
So many deaths on that day and now we know about the other casualties…the long term suffering of the first responders who inhaled the dust and debris at ground zero. They may not have died on 9-11, but so many have suffered with various cancers after putting their lives on the line hoping to save a life. Residents who lived in the neighborhoods, office workers from surrounding buildings in Lower Manhattan, people who just happened to be on the street as the toxic dust rained down from above….so many now fighting cancer, or have lost their battle.
As cancer began to show its face in so many of these victims, action was taken and the World Trade Center Health Program was signed into law in January, 2011. You would think 4.2 BILLION dollars would do the job, with all these late effects of the attack. But in fact, the program covered lung diseases,asthma and chronic cough along with mental health issues, PTSD and depression.
Where was the cancer coverage? It took an advisory committee made up of doctors, union heads, and community health voices to strongly recommend cancer be covered too. The National Institute of Occupational Safety listened and acted. The government added 50 types of cancer to the list of 9-11 related illnesses that will now be covered for responders and other victims exposed to the toxic dust.
Who knows how much money will be needed to properly cover those who made a decision that day to try and help. To do whatever they could to pull a person to safety or direct traffic or provide aid to a tired first responder, only to be diagnosed with lung cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia or lymphoma months later.
We owe those people so much. With out knowing it at the time, they also gave the ultimate sacrifice.