“It remains inconceivable that now, 18 years later, we’re still losing our loved ones because of the attack this day.”
~Daniel Nigro, fire commissioner, FDNY.
For those of us who watched in horror on that beautiful, sunny Tuesday morning in 2001 as the planes crashed into the Twin Towers, we will never forget.
The terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people that day in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., shattered our collective sense of security, made us question our own mortality and rallied our patriotism.
But when it was over and the shock had died down, most of us were able to go back to our lives, shaken but not broken.
That’s not the case for the heroes of 9/11, both those who died trying to help others that day and the heroes who came in after, searching for victims, helping recover the bodies, investigating the site and cleaning up the damage.
Among the thousands of tons of debris that fell on the city that day was dust containing toxins and carcinogens. The people who worked at the site or who worked and lived around it in the immediate aftermath of the attacks breathed in that dust.
Many have since suffered from chronic health problems, respiratory illnesses and cancer — tens of thousands of people.
Many have died, and continue to die, from their exposure.
And now it’s even possible that fetal development issues related to the toxins may be affecting a generation of Americans that wasn’t even born on September 11, 2001.
Among those who helped in rescue and recovery operations and who died years later of cancer as a result of their efforts in the wake of 9/11 were State Trooper Brian Falb of Morrisonville, Trooper Michael J. Anson of Colonie and Sergeant/Station Commander Charles R. Salaway, who was stationed in Wilton and Greenwich.
The events of 9/11 had an enduring effect on all of us who lived during that time.
In a sense, we were all victims.
But there were those who paid a much higher price than the rest of us.
The people on the planes. The people in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The first responders who rushed into danger and never came out. And the many others who suffered and died from diseases in the aftermath.
Today, we remember all of their sacrifices, and pray that something like this never happens again.