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First responders shouldn’t finish last

Published: September 9, 2011
Section: Opinions


The 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 is quickly approaching. This day is to our generation what the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were to our parents; a day so ingrained in our minds, it is likely we can all describe the day in extraordinary detail. With its milestone anniversary arriving in the upcoming weeks, questions have arisen in regards to the ceremony planned to commemorate the tragedy. Plans, however, are not running as smoothly as one would expect for such an anticipated commemorative ceremony.

City officials have publicly stated that the first responders to the attack on the World Trade Center will not be invited or included in the 10-year anniversary ceremony, which is set to take place at the former site of the towers, Ground Zero. City officials went on to justify this statement by clarifying that their intentions were not to exclude but rather to ensure that they will be able to include all of the families of the victims of the horrific event.

Blaming it on lack of room at the ceremony, thousands of firefighters, police officers and other rescue workers will be excluded from the ceremony. Although clearly a noble and understandable intention, backlash has arisen based on the city officials’ decision. In an attempt to pacify the masses, city officials have opened discussion of having a ceremony for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 at a later date. (It seems that the city misunderstands the meaning of an anniversary.)

Yet, let us understand that hundreds of First Responders also fell victim to the attack on 9/11. Notably, yes, their families will be able to attend but one must think about the firefighters, police officers and rescuers who lost dear friends and coworkers. It seems almost cruel and unusual not to allow these noble men and women who risked their lives, lost friends and helped save others to come to the ceremony. It is understandable, however, that room is indeed a factor and that priority should of course be given to the families of the victims; yet, the issue of room shouldn’t have been treated so lightly.

On the anniversary of this day, a day that made modern-day New York part of what it is today, one would expect the sympathy and understanding of both the commoners and the city council. It is, in my opinion, simply offensive and disrespectful that the city appeared to “solve” the capacity issue by cutting out the attendance of such integral people.

I am of the opinion that the city officials didn’t handle this in the greatest manner. As I mentioned earlier, the impact of this day on New York, should allow for some leeway for the possibility of fencing off part of the area surrounding Ground Zero to create room capacity to include all of the first responders. Disrupting city traffic and regulations, however, may seem to be too much of a cost or maybe too much work, leaving the city unwilling to take this idea into consideration.

It is ridiculous to close off the ceremony to people who risked their lives in the name of their nation. They won’t be there for the country’s commemoration of their service. But when the country needed them 10 years ago they were there.