Tuesday, August 2, 2011

GWB and BHO to GZ for 9/11: First responders not invited

As everybody surely knows by now, this 9/11 - the tenth anniversary of that terrible day - there will be many ceremonies, both in small town communities, and at the sacred Ground Zero.

July 29, 2011, 1:13 pm

Obama and Bush to Visit New York for 9/11 Anniversary

More here.

As I mentioned to someone last night, one of the enduring images for me of 9/11 - from my vantage point in a different time zone miles away from Ground Zero - was the unity, the common sense of purpose that reverberated from the steps of the World Trade Center and rippled around the world. Since that day, every issue connected with Ground Zero has become a flashpoint of vastly divergent opinions.

This year is no different. As more details are emerging about the official plans to commemorate 9/11, opinions on who should be there, what is an appropriate respectful way to honour those we lost, are - perhaps - being lost.

Diane Fairben is the mother of Keith Fairben, a paramedic who died on 9/11, saving others' lives:

These first responders are the people that looked for Keith and all the other people who were lost on 9/11. They were the people who carried out my son when he was found. How do I even begin to tell them what they did was above and beyond ? They should be there. Most get little, if any recognition for what they did that day, and in the weeks following., and many of them have health problems because of what they did. I understand that families from the 1993 WTC bombing are invited this year, but it is a large area where the memorial is held, and other than family members, the first responders should be there before anyone else.

Hard to argue with her logic.

Then I spoke to Jack Delaney for his take on this apparent slap in the face for the First Responders, some of the greatest Heroes of that day. Delaney was Director of Emergency Services at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Keith's boss, on 9/11.

Although recent articles have negatively portrayed the fact that rescue
workers and survivors are not being invited to participate in the 10th
anniversary ceremonies we need to take a step back and reflect upon the
facts. Due to the massive ongoing construction projects and associated
safety issues the size of the crowd must be limited. As it is the 10th
anniversary there has been an overwhelming response from the families of
those killed on 9/11 who wish to participate in the ceremony. As a
rescuer who spent numerous hours at Ground Zero dedicated to the rescue
and recovery efforts and trying beyond belief to recover anything for
these families, I will gladly step aside and let them take "front
row". As rescuers, we spent endless days at GZ dedicated to
reuniting the remains of our fallen brothers and sisters with their
loved-ones. I certainly hope that I am reflecting the emotions of
fellow rescuers when saying that our commitment to the families of those
lost on 9/11 is unwavering, and we only wish that we could do more to
comfort them. I am thrilled beyond belief, that there has been such an
overwhelming response on behalf of the families of our fallen and I
assure you that, as rescuers, we will be there both spiritually and

These are just two out of the thousands of opinions that are being voiced. I think Delaney nails it on the head when he says "we will be there both spiritually and emotionally."

Fact is, I DO think it more than fitting that President George W Bush will be in attendance. I also believe that as many families and connected personnel that want to attend, should be present at Ground Zero on 9/11/2011. The politicians, for whom it will be just another public engagement? Not so much! Yes, call me cynical.

Truth of the matter is, that much as we all would like to, we cannot all physically be at Ground Zero to share in the public Memorial for the Heroes of 9/11. However, I also believe - know in my heart that - even without a presence at any public gatherings, many, many of us will be there on 9/11 - spiritually and emotionally - just as we stand with the families of the Fallen, every single day of the year.

Every day, every year.


Diane Fairben said...

Thanks Brat, another great article seeing both sides of the issue. Jack is right as well. He understates the important role he and others played that day and beyond. I know for a fact Keith's friends "defied" ahem, Jack's order to not go there and look for Keith. But, they found a way to return day after day, week after week. I still would want some first responders there.

Unknown said...

I second Diane, you did a wonderful job of presenting both sides of the issue.
and I,too, will plan to be present 'spiritually and emotionally" in solemn observance and remembrance.