The attacks of Sept. 11 seem a lifetime ago. Our world is so busy and our lives so involved that what was just 12 years ago may seem of little importance. But to those who lost a loved one, every day has moments of sorrow that will never go away.
Thousands responded to Ground Zero in the aftermath of the attacks. At first the efforts were to save anyone buried beneath the rubble that the day before was the Twin Towers. Ultimately the effort became one to clean up the site and to find body parts of the nearly 3,000 Americans lost to the terrorists.
Of those who worked on the pile, many have died from the contaminants that proliferated at the site. Congress belatedly acted to offer financial aid to the volunteers, who were also victims of al-Qaeda.
Daily those who worked on the pile die, leaving behind families who are forced to pay the price of the attacks. Many have children who face an uncertain future. Don’t we owe an obligation to the first responders who saved thousands sacrificing their lives? And shouldn’t we also be recognizing those who worked on the pile and have died doing the cleanup that we demanded as citizens?
St. Michael’s Cemetery in East Elmhurst on Sept. 7 will host the second Remember Me Run to raise funds for the children of those who died as a consequence of working on the “pile” to attend higher education. Following the run, a memorial service honoring the first responders will be held led by religious and community leaders. By respecting those who paid the ultimate price we honor their devotion and fulfill our duty as grateful citizens.
The writer is Communications Director for St. Michael’s Cemetery.