Our world changed forever on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
Hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 11 into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City at 8:46 a.m.
Foreign supported, funded and trained terrorists dealt the worst sneak attack since Pearl Harbor. They had hijacked four jet planes and took them on suicide missions to blow up the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. Thousands of innocent men and women, as well as firefighters, police and other first responders died that day.
The nation went to bed that first night – at war – with an unseen, unknown enemy.
We sent our armed forces to hunt down those responsible in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Eleven years later we are still at war with terrorists – foreign and home grown – who want to strike at our Democracy.
And many of those who risked their lives, spending countless hours “on the pile” are just now beginning the fight for their lives.
The Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, passed so that first responders have proper medical care and compensation for the injuries they sustained, was just expanded to include 50 types of cancer to the list of diseases covered.
It is a start.
But it is not enough.
What about the psychological impact of the terrorist attacks? What of those people whose families were torn apart? The children who are growing up without a parent?
The agreement on the eve of the 11th anniversary to move ahead with the 9/11 museum is welcomed, as perhaps, in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s words, it is “a meaningful victory for the families.”
Our lives, our worlds, were shaken to the core that day, and many have never fully recovered.
The adage goes that, “time heals all wounds,” but in this case, time is the enemy as more and more first responders discover they are sick.
Over years we have learned to be patient in lines at the airports. We have learned to watch and report the odd, the abandoned package, the out of place car or truck.
We must remember those who died; those who cleaned up the site and those who are rebuilding Ground Zero. We must take care of those who have become sick after working at the site too.
We are a cautious, vigilant nation, and we – and the heroes of September 11 – are still at war.