Congress Denies 9/11 Responders Their Due

I was on my couch eating cereal. I had a late workday scheduled because I was going to have to teach another CPR class. That meant I didn’t have to be at work until 10 or 10:30 am. I put my bowl in the sink and went down to my car. That’s when I heard the news: A plane crashed into the World Trade Center.

“Stupid ass morning radio shows. That’s not even funny” was my first thought and I changed the channel to hear the same thing. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. “That’s weird. Why would two radio stations be making the same bad joke.” I changed stations again. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

“Holy shit.” It was real. I stepped on the gas pedal and picked up speed as I headed to my job at the American Red Cross. I made it to the office, and it was dead silent. I went to the lounge and my colleagues were glued to the TV. I made it just in time to see the second plane plunge into the World Trade Center. It was unreal, or surreal, or just crazy and the towers came down.

The phones began ringing and would slow down for about a week. Disaster training classes were packed, and we responded to the emergency from all over the United States. We were outraged, angry, concerned, mortified… America had lost its innocence and its insulation. The fabric of our society could’ve unraveled with a tug in the wrong direction, but that wasn’t the full story.

While our government was working at dividing the country along religious and racial lines due to the perpetrators of this heinous act, first responders – the people on the ground – were working to find survivors, to clean the wreckage and to bring America hope. Volunteers lined up, filling rooms for training and deployment, spilling out the doors and into the parking lot. Donations poured in to help the victims.

Yes, we faced despair and our mortality, but we faced it together. We were stronger because of those who were able to be on site helping. The first responders did more than take care of the World Trade Center and its surroundings; they took care of us as a country. Unifying us in a way that our leaders refused to do.

It’s time to look toward those first responders who were injured or have fallen ill because of exposure to toxins released when the Twin Towers came down. They can unite us again, and they should. They took care of us; it’s time we take care of them. Shame on the Senate, and specifically Rand Paul, for putting money before people. 9/11 – we’ll never forget. Let’s make sure they know what they mean and meant to this nation before it’s too late. Phone your senator, the president, and your rep and tell them to take care of our 9/11 First Responders in the way they should be taken care of.

I was on my couch eating cereal. Where were you when the World Trade Center went down? Where are you now that the first responders need our help?