17 years ago, 4 weeks after 9/11, I walked the
Ground Zero. I dubbed this “The Mile of Tears” (https://members.tripod.com/the_questress-ivil/wtcjournal/id5.html) .
The images, the smells, and the dust, I shall never forget that walk. In the
corner of a building’s entrance (all stores were shuttered during that time) I
saw some dust piled into a crevice. Taking a plastic bag from my purse and
carefully, tenderly, I scooped that dust into it. I felt that this was the last
remains of the towers and might even contain human ash from when they burned.
That small bag of dust has been contained in
a special box
for all these years. Each 9/11 I place that small box in a prominent place in
my house, along with a crucifix, a picture of the twin towers and candles. This
is MY annual 9/11 memorial. This year it takes on a new meaning.
When the first responders ran to the WTC to rescue
they had no time to think about themselves. As we know many lost their lives in
their acts of heroism during those ensuing hours. Later, hundreds of these
first responders descended upon Ground Zero, to work on what was then known as
“the Pile”, trying to locate anyone who might have been buried alive. Days,
weeks, months passed that they worked down there, many without wearing any
protective masks, inhaling the dark, gray, toxic dust. The same dust I now have
in my little box.
Over the years that dust, lodged in their bodies,
cancers of all types. During these years they also had to fight for their
rights for health insurance payouts, as one after another succumbed to the
various diseases. Our heroes, those who died after that day in September,
though not quite forgotten were never memorialized in either the WTC memorial
or in the annual reading of names.
This year, that’s been rectified.
The conceptual design for a new memorial
at Ground Zero was unveiled Wednesday May 23, 2018 for the “Memorial Glade”. It
will honor those first responders who labored for months on the toxic site and
remember the neighborhood residents and workers also poisoned by the air.
Gstalter writes, “The 9/11 Memorial
& Museum at the World Trade Center
will be modified to honor rescue and recovery workers who have died from related
illnesses. ‘The 9/11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center is
determined to build greater awareness about this unabating health crisis,’
Stewart and Greenwald wrote. Six large stone elements will be
placed along a new pathway
on the southwest side of the existing plaza.
‘The stones are worn and broken, but not beaten; they appear to
jut up and out of the plaza as if violently displaced, and convey strength and
resistance,’ according to Michael Arad.
Arad, along with Peter Walker, were the original designers of the
9/11 Memorial and also designed the addition.
The stones will mirror the path of the main ramp used by the
rescue and recovery workers.
The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund released new
data earlier this month that found victims and first responders are reporting
‘increasing numbers and types of illnesses’ nearly two decades after the
Morgan Gstalter - 05/30/18 11:24 Am Edt “Jon
Stewart announces new section of 9/11
memorial to honor first responders”
And the path will end near the Survivor Tree, the enduring
symbol of the city’s resilience.