First responders should be treated with due respect

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It’s been said that when someone becomes a firefighter, police officer or an EMT, his or her greatest act of bravery has already been accomplished. Everything that follows is just part of doing the job. Ten years ago, hundreds of New York City firefighters, police officers and EMTs showed the truth in these words, by sacrificing their lives for the thousands of people trapped in the burning towers of the World Trade Center.

On the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, the city of New York planned to commemorate those lost on that tragic day with the unveiling of a memorial that stands on the same ground where thousands of lives were lost. And yet, in a moment of political grandstanding, the office of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has dealt the first responder agencies of New York City a heavy blow. No members of the FDNY, NYPD, or any other emergency service branch were invited to the ceremony.

The mayor said the ceremony would be strictly limited to the affected families of the tragedy, and space constraints did not allow for the invitation of New York’s bravest. The mayor did offer to invite the first responders of New York to another ceremony at a later, unspecified date. But if accommodating the victims’ families in that space was the only issue, then how is it that Representative Jerrold Nadler D-N.Y., whose district includes ground zero, was given free reign to invite the entire House of Representatives to the 10th anniversary memorial?

It seems the men and women of the FDNY and NYPD, not to mention the thousands of civilian volunteers who gave countless hours of their time, were deemed good enough to die to save those trapped that day. Thousands of families were torn apart, along with 343 New York City firefighters and paramedics and 23 NYPD officers who died alongside them.

But 10 years later, their sacrifice isn’t worthy of an invitation to commemorate those they could not save. Let us not forget that were it not for the efforts of those brave men and women, potentially thousands more families would be attending that ceremony, mourning the loss of a loved one from that tragedy, in addition to the thousands already attending.

It seems that in this day and age, the admirable services performed by emergency responders every day just don’t have a healthy bottom line when it comes to politics. That is to say, these men and women risked everything they knew and held dear just to fulfill their job description, unlike the politicians who are calling the shots now. Many lost lives, and others lost their livelihoods and their health. Many are estranged from their families and friends out of grief. Who’s to say everything they’ve lost is any less important? The city of New York, it seems.

“9/11 showed us what human beings are capable of, the evil and intolerance, sure. But it also brought out the goodness in people that we forgot was there. People caring for one another, for no other reason than because it was the right thing to do,” said John McLoughlin in Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center.”

The men and women of the FDNY, NYPD and all other emergency services demonstrated these characteristics that day. Their exclusion from the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 is an insult to the memory of their sacrifices on that day, as they are being denied access to a ceremony where they rightfully belong.

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