It’s been eight years today since the coordinated attack on New York and Washington D.C. in which almost 3,000 people perished. Most of us have gone on with our lives; I know that feels like a lifetime ago when I recall where I was and what I was doing. However, for many of the first responders and residents in lower Manhattan, life hasn’t gone on. I watched the documentary Dust to Dust: The Health Effects of 9/11 earlier today after thinking about these people. I suppose I had the impression that ill health effects from the recovery and clean-up efforts were limited to a few individuals. If this documentary is even half true1 (and it does seem legit based on some additional reading I did today), the effects were far worse than I imagined.
It is tragic how the people that the nation — and indeed the world — lined up to thank as heroes have been treated since. The documentary lays the blame at the EPA and the Bush administration for mishandling the health issues and rushing back to a sense of normalcy (something which was not without reason; though doesn’t justify the lack of safety precautions). Once we learn about the treatment of these people who ran toward danger and worked tirelessly to help, we all get to shoulder some of that blame, too. We cannot allow people who serve the public to be treated as throw-away tools. It is entirely disrespectful to their sacrifice and it ensures that no one will step up to fill these roles for future generations. I’ve not found anything that suggest these individuals are asking for handouts. They want to be treated with the respect deserved them, those responsible for placing them in unsafe conditions to be held responsible, and to get the care they need. That’s really not asking for much, in my opinion.
So, if you can find an hour to spare, I highly recommend watching this documentary. This isn’t some left- or right-wing political agenda film. It is a intimate look at how modern America, in her rush to get back to our normal way of living, has indeed forgotten about some of those we swore we never would forget.
Incidentally, he documentary is narrated by actor Steve Buscemi. Buscemi, as it turns out, was a former New York City firefighter and returned to New York on Sept. 12 to help aid in recovery efforts for a week. Though no mention is made of this in the documentary (nor if Buscemi himself suffered in ill health effects), he clearly is in a position to help speak out about such an issue.
- It is sad in light of such a tragedy that I feel the need to have to include this but I want to be clear that I am not some conspiracy theorist nor am I looking for something to complain about the Bush administration. This just strikes me as a very real and ongoing problem associated with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. [↩]