9/11 heroes sacrificed so much to save victims on September 11, 2001. Even with the billowing smoke and collapsing towers, they were not deterred from rescuing so many. Since they would do it all again in a heartbeat, they are all heroes. Even after the 9/11 attacks, firefighters, police officers, first responders and many others worked at ground zero to search for the bodies of their comrades as well as others who were missing. As they helped in the effort to clear Ground Zero, they were exposed to toxic fumes which would make them very sick. Years later, many 9/11 heroes would develop diseases caused by the toxic chemicals from Ground Zero. Fortunately, the Victim Compensation Fund, which ran from 2001 to 2004, helped first responders and families whose relatives perished in the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately, as more 9/11 heroes became sick, they needed more compensation. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 helped first responders with their medical bills and enabled them to get the medical care that they needed.
When a Special Master saw that the funds for the James Zadroga 9/11 Healthy and Compensation Reauthorization Act were running out, 9/11 heroes protested. Jon Stewart, a comedian and former Daily Show host, became an advocate of 9/11 heroes. Stewart even used the Daily Show as a political platform to spread the word about the needs of 9/11 heroes. The Daily Show, which was usually satirical and humorous, now had a serious tone because it was now dedicated to 9/11 heroes and their quest for justice.
As a true New Yorker and patriot, Stewart even testified in Congress on behalf of the 9/11 heroes who saved so many during the 9/11 attacks. Even though many 9/11 heroes were sick, they still went to Washington, DC to testify at the hearings, which received plenty of media attention. One of the many first responders who testified was Luis Alvarez. As a former NYC detective, who worked for three months at Ground Zero, Alvarez knew firsthand the devastating illnesses that his comrades contracted from being exposed to deadly chemicals. Alvarez was suffering from colorectal cancer that he contracted from working at Ground Zero, when he gave his heartwarming testimony to Congress. Even though his body was weak, his spirit was still strong.
After hearing many testimonies from 9/11 first responders, the House voted to permanently reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2092. President Trump signed the Never Forget the Heroes Act on July 12, 2019. Alvarez, who died after shortly after testifying in Congress, would always be remembered as an advocate defending the rights of 9/11 heroes.
Now 9/11 heroes finally have a safety net, and their medical bills will no longer burden their families. According to recent statistics, 9/11 heroes will certainly need compensation. The fact that the deaths of 9/11 heroes will outnumber the 3,000 souls that perished on September 11, 2001 is certainly mind boggling.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act is named in memory of James Zadroga. He was a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer who died from inhaling fumes at Ground Zero. He joined the police force in 1992 and eventually earned the rank of Detective. Despite the fact that he was once an energetic man, the toxic chemicals from the 9/11 attacks took their toll on his health. Even though he did smoke or had asthma, he was quickly out of breath. After the 9/11 attacks, he worked for a total of 450 hours during the recovery effort at Ground Zero exposing him to deadly toxins. Due to Zadroga’s devastating illness, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund awarded him $1 million in 2004. After proudly serving the NYPD, he also received permanent disability.
Sadly, there are many 9/11 heroes, like Zadroga, who are suffering from terminal illnesses. Even though there is no known cure for these illnesses, the financial compensation that they will receive will give them peace of mind since they no longer have to carry a heavy financial burden. Surrounded by family and friends, they will now live as comfortable as possible. This is what every American truly deserves, especially our 9/11 heroes who risked their own lives to save others.