Monday, August 24, 2009
The 9/11 rescue workers are falling victim to a higher than average rate of life threatening diseases. They blame it on their time spent in the giant dust clouds.
New York’s emergency services were among the first on the scene of the 9/11 disaster but where ignoring their personal safety. Those involved in the rescue and clean-up operation quickly became national heroes.
NYC firefighter hero
One of the firefighters was John McNamara. He was first on the scene at ground zero. He battled to save live that day but lost his own battle to cancer aged just 44 – a victim of his own bravery.
His courage was commemorated at St. Patrick’s cathedral, where McNamara’s funeral took place.
Today his son Jack McNamara is still too young to understand his father’s actions that day. All he knows is that dad was a firefighter.
Around 100 ground zero recovery workers have died of cancer, with a further 600 hundred diagnosed with the disease.
“I and the other families of the victims are so devastated that so many of these valiant firefighters who struggled to find my son and to save others arenow they’re paying the price,” says Sally Reigenhardt whose son died in the 9/11 attacks.
City, state and federal officials have not acknowledged a direct link between the cancer cases and ground zero toxins. Congress has yet to approve 9/11 health legislation calling for federal financial coverage of health costs for rescue workers.
John McNamara spent about 500 hours at ground zero aiding in rescue and recovery. Nearly eight years later, the scene here is all about rebuilding. But as the hole in the ground grows smaller the list of 9/11 related deaths is growing longer and longer.
“The government pays for these and I pay for these”
Retired police officer Mike Valentine has had four biopsies for a precancerous tumor in his throat and has to take 15 pills a day. He calls 9/11 America’s Chernobyl.
“The people that will die from illnesses will surpass the number of people that were killed on 9/11. I am talking about thousands, tens of thousands of people that will come down with cancers,” forecasts 9/11 first responder Valentin.
Valentin says he worked roughly 200 hours at ground zero, wearing only a bandana around his face – because U.S. officials said the air was safe.
Mike says that “when they made the decision that after two weeks I’d be digging on that pile for a further four months… that wasn’t about saving lives. That was about greed. Wall Street needed to reopen.”
Valentin, the father of three, sold his home to pay the medical bills the government refused to cover, subsequently seeking shelter at his father’s home.
He says U.S. leaders have turned their backs on the heroes they promised never to forget.
Mike Valentin, 9/11 first responder, long island/new york:
“Our families are not looking to put Mercedes Benz on the front yard. We’re not looking to take European trips. We’re not looking to bail out anybody on Wall Street,” says Valentin, “We’re looking to take care of our families when we die. That’s all we want. I wanna die in peace.”
With the time he has left, Mike Valentine vows to continue fighting for the compensation he believes 9/11 first responders deserve.
This article was posted: Monday, August 24, 2009 at 3:54 am