There are a few people in my life that I hold in very high regard. My father of course, my mother, my grandfather, a few others over the years but two people that have tight strings around my heart had their lives changed forever on this date 16 years ago.
It is not widely known on this site but I am not a native Wisconsite. No I am a transplant from California. My father immigrated here from San Fele, Italy, along with his entire family. Mother, father, brother, sisters, cousins, etc etc. He didn’t speak a lick of English and he landed in Harrison, New York where he spent his childhood living the New York Italian American way, along with both of my cousin John and Michael. I love my Italian family. I wish I could see and be with them more.
On 9/11/2001 I knew that 2 of my relatives were possibly in danger because they, like my father, became public servants.Luckily, after many hours my father confirmed that neither one of them were on duty that day and were safe. Little did we know that the terrorists would continue to kill long after the physical damage of 9/11 had been cleaned up.
We all memorialize the amount of people that lost their lives 16 years ago today…as we should. 2,996
However, we have failed to recognize the people who have suffered, continue to suffer, and who have died since 9/11 because of the effects and medical conditions they contracted on 9/11
The terrorists killed 2,996 people on 9/11 but since June 2015 they have managed to more than double that number in cancer related deaths and patients with 6,378.
It has been called the Second Wave
“Perez is one of the thousands fighting deadly diseases as a result of exposure to Ground Zero. Doctors with the World Trade Center Health Program, which the federal government created in the aftermath of the attacks, have linked nearly 70 types of cancer to Ground Zero. Many people have fallen victim to cancers their doctors say are rare, aggressive and particularly hard to treat. “The diseases stemming from the World Trade Center attacks include almost all lung diseases, almost all cancers—such as issues of the upper airways, gastroesophageal acid reflux disease, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, panic and adjustment disorders,” says Dr. David Prezant, co-director for the Fire Department of the City of New York’s World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program.
The wider population is also suffering: As many as 400,000 people are estimated to be affected by diseases, such as cancers, and mental illnesses linked to September 11. This figure includes those who lived and worked within a mile and a half of Ground Zero in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the vast majority of whom still don’t know they’re at risk. Mark Farfel, director of the World Trade Center Health Registry, which tracks the health of more than 71,000 rescue workers and survivors, says, “Many people don’t connect the symptoms they have today to September 11.
”Richard Dixon, a Bronx-based cop with the New York Police Department, agrees. “You don’t think that the cough you get today will be the cancer you get tomorrow.” He spent two months working in rescue and recovery at Ground Zero. Since then, he’s had sleep apnea, sinusitis and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can be a precursor to cancer.And he’s one of the lucky ones. Unlike others on the force, he’s still able to work—and is cancer-free. “We lost 23 NYPD officers in the attacks,” he says. “But many more have died since then of these September 11–related illnesses. We need to find out why, or that list of names on the 9/11 memorial is going to just keep growing.”
Today, 15 years after the attacks, doctors are starting to understand why people are still dying. When the towers came down, they say, they released a massive plume of carcinogens, turning lower Manhattan into a cesspool of cancer and deadly disease. “We will never know the composition of that cloud, because the wind carried it away, but people were breathing and eating it,” says Mount Sinai’s Crane. “What we do know is that it had all kinds of god-awful things in it. Burning jet fuel. Plastics, metal, fiberglass, asbestos. It was thick, terrible stuff. A witch’s brew.”
No one knows exactly when downtown New York became safe again—and some, like Bonilla, say it isn’t safe now. But those directly exposed to the World Trade Center disaster who can prove they lived or worked in the area between September 11, 2001, and July 31, 2002, when the cleanup ended, can receive free treatment for a growing list of illnesses linked to the 9/11 attacks. In December, Congress reauthorized a bill to provide free medical services and treatment to responders and survivors of September 11 for the rest of their lives. In fiscal 2016, Congress will spend $330 million on the program. That number will gradually rise to $570 million by 2025.”
My cousin Michael Federici is one of the luckier ones. He does suffer from some post 9/11 issues that caused him to stop being a Firefighter but he was able to open up a thriving embroidery shop called On the Job Embroidery and Apparel in New York.
My other cousin John Botte was not so lucky. Even though neither of these men were working on 9/11, John was a photographer from the PD and as such he had the duty to document what was occurring in the moments and days after the attack at ground zero.
His book is called “Aftermath: Unseen 9/11 Photos by a New York City Cop” and was published in 2006. However, this book has cost him everything. To this day his health declines every moment. We never know what day will be his last. He wasn’t just known for these photos he was known for his striking black and white photography in general, and btw he got invited to spend the day photography one of the most legendary rock bands of all time AC/DC…so there’s that!
But he gave his life to give the world the images that haunt most of us on this day.
So please not only think of the people that died on this day but also think of all the people that have died since.
I love you Michael Federici and for what you sacrificed and I love you John and for all that you gave and sacrificed….your pictures are truly beautiful…all of them not just the ones about 9/11
I welcome you to read some of what my cousin says about his time shooting the towers in this interview.