By Kelly Haugh
As the nation looks back ten years to the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, you might notice someone important missing from the ceremony at Ground Zero. Thanks to a decision by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the brave firefighters, police officers and port authority police officers who showed such heroism on 9/11 will not be allowed to attend the tenth anniversary service due to “space constraints,” according to a statement from Bloomberg spokesman Andrew Brent.
Apparently, the politicians who need to be seen publicly paying their respects are more important than the heroes who risked their lives to save their fellow New Yorkers.
What’s even more troubling is that this glaring oversight is nothing new. Over the past nine years, first responders have actually never been invited to the Ground Zero ceremony, although first responder Morris Faitelewicz, vice president of the Auxiliary Police Supervisors Benevolent Association, told CNN that was “nonsense.” The August 16 article goes on to explain that although formal invitations aren’t usually dispersed, “first responders have been able to attend all of the previous ceremonies simply by showing up.”
That won’t be the case this year since first responders have been effectively banned from the site, something Bloomberg attributes to the need to focus on victims’ families.
“Family members only will be allowed to walk onto the plaza, look at their loved ones’ names, look down into the voids,” Bloomberg told WOR radio. “The first day it’s reserved for those family members who lost somebody on 9/11.”
I guess losing a combined 403 brothers and sisters at Ground Zero doesn’t qualify the FDNY, NYPD and PAPD as “family” in Bloomberg’s eyes.
He seems to have forgotten their remarkable heroism and their tireless efforts to sift through the rubble, first in a desperate search for survivors and then as part of a dutiful mission to bring their fallen comrades home. NYC’s first responders will forever be linked to the site that swallowed so many brave souls, and they deserve to be there with the victims’ families to mark this solemn milestone and see the newly unveiled memorial.
If anything, Bloomberg is the one who should be barred from the 9/11 ceremony due to his apparent lack of respect for all of the pain, loss and sacrifice that first responders have had to endure since that fateful Tuesday morning. They are the heroes that lived through September 11 while you, Mayor Bloomberg, are merely a waste of space.