Borough President Gale Brewer, local residents, first responders, organized labor, and elected officials join to announce formation of committee to establish a monument to 9/11 responders and survivors sickened and dying from their exposure to toxins at Ground Zero

May 15, 2014

NEW YORK, NY – Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, U.S. Rep Jerrold Nadler, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, N.Y. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, N.Y. State Senator Daniel Squadron, NYC Council Member Margaret Chin, NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, NYC Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez, NYC Uniformed Fire Officers President Al Hagan, 9/11 responder and President of the FealGood Foundation John Feal, Kimberly Flynn, Chair of the WTC Health Program’s Survivors Steering Committee, and Community Board Chair Catherine McVay-Hughes today announced the formation of a committee to establish a 9/11 Responders & Survivors’ Monument to honor those sickened and dying from their actions during and after the 9/11 attacks.

“To this day, people are still suffering—and still dying—from the events and aftermath thirteen years ago. For them, it’s not in the distant past, it’s something they have to live with every day,” said Borough President Gale Brewer. “A simple, elegant monument to their actions—their bravery—will help remind all New Yorkers, and all Americans, that they deserve support. There are many monuments to the victims who died on the tragic day of 9-11, but none near Ground Zero to help focus our memories and honor those who are sick and living with injuries from their actions or who have already died from their illnesses.”

“This proposed monument would create a tangible reminder that for many who lived through 9/11, the effects of the day did not end when the towers fell, or even when the rescue and recovery efforts were completed at Ground Zero,” said Congressman Nadler. “Many responders, workers, and area residents—my constituents—have since become ill or died as a result of exposure to 9/11 toxins. Their fight, for their health and well-being, is why I fought so hard to pass the Zadroga bill, why we will need to continue to fight to make sure that health and compensation continue to be available for the victims of 9/11, and why I so strongly support this effort to honor their struggles and memories. Thank you to Borough President Brewer for starting this process, and thank you to everyone who has responded so enthusiastically. I look forward to working on this together.”

“I am thrilled by Borough President Brewer’s innovative proposal to bring a statue to Ground Zero to honor the heroism and bravery of the 9/11 first responders. A statue would not only pay tribute to their bravery and selflessness, it would serve as a reminder that we must renew the James Zadroga Act. The Zadroga Act, which I and many of my colleagues fought very hard to pass, literally saves lives. Many of these first responders are still sick as a result of their courageous actions in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. They were there for us in our darkest hour; we must not abandon them now that they are in need,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

“Our 9/11 first responders and survivors who are suffering and dying came to America’s rescue in our greatest hour of need,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “A monument would pay tribute to their extraordinary courage and serve as a reminder of our undeniable moral obligation to provide our nation’s heroes with the care and treatment they deserve.”

“We must never forget those we lost on 9/11 and those whose lives were lost thereafter. We all know, the attacks had long-lasting health effects on many first responders who risked their lives on that tragic day. I fought hard to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act for those exposed to toxins at Ground Zero, and now I pledge to fight hard for this much-deserving monument. An everlasting tribute at Ground Zero will rightfully memorialize those who died as a result of their acts of courage and heroism on and after 9/11,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer

“The devastation of 9/11 did not end on that day,” said N.Y. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “Thousands of New Yorkers, from our heroic first responders to many of my Lower Manhattan neighbors, have continued to suffer from injury and illness caused by their work at Ground Zero or their exposure to the toxic air that lingered in our community. Tragically, some have already paid the ultimate price. It is crucially important that we honor and recognize the tremendous sacrifices that were made by those who volunteered to work at the World Trade Center site and those who showed their dedication to our community by remaining Downtown.”

“First responders and those who helped after the attacks are heroes–and the fact that so many have been sickened because of government’s failure is part of the tragedy. Honoring their service could not be more appropriate,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “I applaud Borough President Brewer for organizing this effort, and I look forward to working collaboratively with her and my other colleagues in seeing this effort through.”

“New York City, and especially the Lower Manhattan community, has lived in the aftermath of 9/11 long after the towers fell,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “To this day, many residents, workers, and first responders suffer from severe physical and mental health complications from the events of that tragic day and their long-term exposure to toxins in the area for years afterward. Their struggle is constant and ongoing; this monument would enable New Yorkers and Americans to honor the courage these individuals have shown in the face of unspeakable loss, and serve as reminder of the work ahead of us to ensure that responders and survivors get the support and care they need to heal.”
“Responders and survivors are still suffering as a result of exposure to 9/11 toxins. Although, we’ve taken steps through the Zadroga Act to provide necessary care and resources, there is still much work to be done,” New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said. “We commend Borough President Brewer for spearheading the development of this monument, which will serve as a timeless reminder of their sacrifices and our ongoing obligation to them in the years to come.”

“More New York City police officers have died of exposure to toxins during the rescue, recovery and cleanup than died in the collapse of the towers. Sadly, that number continues to grow from year to year. They asked no questions and did not hesitate to do their duty and they continue to suffer today for their unselfish acts. They are every bit as much a hero as the men and women who died helping to rescue people from the doomed buildings. That is why this monument makes sense and has the support of our union.” said Pat Lynch, President, Patrolman’s Benevolent Association

“This committee was not created to just build a monument, but to honor and remember the best of the best– the best of what this great city and nation had to offer 13 years ago,” said John Feal, 9/11 responder, and founder/president of the FealGood Foundation. “More importantly this committee’s main goal should be to ensure that this monument tells the plight of the 9/11 responder. Because without the resiliency, dedication, and compassion of these selfless warriors, this great city would have never recovered from such an incredible act of violence. Let this monument guide us into the future and remind of the past, making sure history tells their stories correctly”

“I wish to express the survivors’ gratitude to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and our support for this worthy project,” said Kimberly Flynn, Chair of the World Trade Center Health Program’s Survivors Steering Committee, which advises the federal program that treats 9/11-affected residents, workers and students. “A monument will stand as a beautiful and permanent sign honoring the extraordinary heroism of responders and the astonishing resilience of the people of Lower Manhattan. It will also signal the resolve we all share to ensure that all those who are sick as a result of 9/11 will get the health care they need and deserve, now and in the future.”

“On September 11th, 2001, and in the months shortly thereafter, we became a city forever changed,” said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “As we continue to heal and rebuild, it is only fitting that we create a monument to honor those whose health has been severely deteriorated, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice fighting to protect our freedom. I applaud this initiative to celebrate the strength and resilience of the brave men and women who have given so much to the people of New York City.”