Last night, as the President of the United States stood before the Congress and the nation to deliver his final State of the Union speech, sitting in the gallery was a man named John Feal, a true American hero, who rushed to help in the aftermath of the horror we all witnessed on that September morning in 2001.
His left foot was crushed by a steel beam during the recovery operations, and who along with thousands of other 9/11 first responders, both emergency personnel and volunteer alike, put their lives on the line in an attempt to try to save lives and help in the recovery operations.
Now, more than six years after that terrible day, the Bush Administration has done virtually nothing to help these heroes, some of whom have died from toxic mixtures of asbestos and concrete dust, mixed with mercury and only God knows how many other chemicals that were in the air for months afterwards, even as the EPA was telling everyone the air was safe to breathe.
Some protesters are in Florida today, telling the world that Rudy Giuliani is not the hero of 9/11 that he pretends to be. These are firefighters and other first responders who are angry at the former mayor for not providing them with the basic equipment such as working radios and respirators and whom they blame for much of the chaos that ensued that day due to Giuliani's insistence on placing the Emergency Operations Center inside of the World Trade Center, even as top advisers argued for the place in Brooklyn that it is now located. The lack of radio equipment that worked was inexcusable, even by the account of John Farmer, a senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, who also would like to know why Rudy never updated the system even after they failed after the first World Trade Center attack. They also want answers from the President.
Some of the illnesses that have been faced by 9/11 responders include such horror shows as Pulmonary Fibrosis, Chronic Lung Disease, Emphysema, and physical injuries that disable most, if not all of those involved.
Despite the fact that a national database of people who were taken ill after 9/11 numbers some 70,000 Americans, the Bush Administration has saw fit to cut funding for health programs for 9/11 victims that live outside the tri-state ares of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Other funding for those inside the tri-state area has come in dribs and drabs, grudgingly, from the same man who uses the events of that day to justify his wars of convenience, and his disregard for our Constitution.
Mr. Feal, who has set up a foundation to try to help other 9/11 responders, who came from all fifty states, and who wasn't going to bother attending the State of the Union address, decided to give it another shot, to if nothing else, symbolize a rebuke of Bush. He said: ""I want to hear him say, 'I'm sorry,' "I want to hear him say that he's going to leave a billion dollars or more for 9/11 responders when he leaves office."
But he's not holding his breath. New York lawmaker Carolyn Maloney adds: "What kind of a nation are we?" "What kind of a message are we sending to future responders? 'You are rushing into tragedy, and we are not going to be there.' "
That about sums it up as the stonewalling continues, and more and more 9/11 responders get sicker by the day. Many have already died from the diseases they contracted from exposure to chemicals they weren't told about, and from the equipment they weren't given in the Bush Administration's attempts to discard all of the material at Ground Zero as quickly as possible. In the haste to remove every shred of evidence at the base of the Towers, they used these people, lied to them about their safety, and now consider them to be more acceptable losses.
They refuse to fund programs for their health, even as they use these very same people for photo ops, for political benefit, and as a cause for war. Even though Congress appropriated money to fund health services for the responders, the Center For Disease Control called off a request for proposals to establish a center. Why would they do that?
And so now, thousands of workers that stood up for our country that day will be left with no place to turn for medications, for health services, or for even counseling, and as one responder put it: "More people are going to end up dying than did on the day of the attacks."
We can not sit back and allow this travesty and injustice to happen. This nation owes these people a debt, and that debt must be paid, or we are morally bankrupt. We have seen how this President responds to crisis and people in desperate need. All one has to do is look at the continued suffering of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, at the place where Bush intends to hold his next meeting to push his North American Union summit, New Orleans. Stated as though this was going to be an event that would save and resurrect the entire Gulf Coast, we all know just how little the man has done for those victims.
All of the speeches, all the memorials, and all of the political posturing mean nothing if we allow these people to die because we were too lazy to type or write or call and make ourselves heard.
So, if you believe that the people that stepped up to the plate and jumped into the fray on the day the towers came down, then you owe it to them to write to the White House, write to Congress, write to your state's Governor, and keep writing until they hear us loudly and clearly.
Tell President Bush that we are not going along with his sweeping the issue under the rug. Tell Congress that they must act before another responder dies. Tell your Governor to put pressure on the White House on behalf of these brave souls. Here's a couple of numbers and email addys to get you started. Batmanchester
The White House1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NWWashington, DC 20500
Comments: 202-456-1111 Switchboard: 202-456-1414
U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515
To easily look up your Senator's email go here: http://www.webslingerz.com/jhoffman/congress-email.html
To find both your Governor's email and Congress person at the same time, go here: