By Emily Drooby
For months activists have been fighting for the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund Bill to pass. Supports say that it gives first responders, victims and their families some peace of mind by paying mounting medical bills stemming from their time at the pile.
Most importantly, it reminds America’s heroes that their country is still there for them.
By signing the ‘Never Forget the Heroes Act’ into law, President Trump has made good on that promise to those most affected by that day.
“Today we come together as one nation to support our September 11th heroes to care for their families and to renew our eternal vow, never ever forget,” said President Trump.
On July 29 he signed the legislation which authorizes money for the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund which pays out claims for both deaths and illnesses related to the attack and the recovery effort.
This signing created a long-awaited financial stability for the heroes of 9/11 and their families – stability that for months, first responder John Feal has been fighting for.
“These men and women, uniformed and non-uniformed, the children of Lower Manhattan are sick and dying and their families are being left in financial ruins,” he said.
This is a fight John shared with fellow 9/11 first responder Luis Alvarez, whose testimony in support of the bill just weeks before his death was watched by millions.
“You all said you would never forget, well I’m here to see that you don’t,” he said.
Those powerful words inspired both the House and the Senate to pass the legislation that Alvarez never got a chance to see.
He passed away last month from 9/11 related cancer, but his son spoke out at a press conference in his absence.
“He said that he was coming down here to make sure that you never forget and I want to thank you for not forgetting him, not forgetting all of the other first responders who tirelessly worked to see this pass,” said David Alvarez.
In the 18 years since 9/11, Alvarez’s story has become too familiar. 2,000 deaths have been attributed to 9/11 related illnesses and 10,000 first responders and victims have been diagnosed with cancer.
The dangerous dust and toxins that covered lower Manhattan are now causing those who were exposed to it other devastating diseases.
The bill was named for Alvarez and two other first responders who lost their life to a 9/11-related illness: NYPD Detective James Zadroga and FDNY firefighter Ray Pfeife.
During the signing, President Trump commemorated them, their families and all of the other heroes who risked everything for the U.S. that day.
“You lift up our communities and you remind us all what it means to stand united as one nation under God,” he told them.
The 9/11 fund was in big trouble until heroes like Luis Alvarez and comedian Jon Stewart put Congress in the hot seat. The compensation program was running out of money, with predictions that the number of survivors with related diseases would soar in the future.
Now, the fund is bankrolled until the year 2090.
The estimates are that many will die from the illnesses they contracted while breathing the deadly air there, and experts say the number of deaths from 9/11-related cancers and other diseases will outnumber the almost 3,000 people who died on September 11, 2001.