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Donna Marsh O'Connor Headshot

American Shame

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Shame on Representative Cliff Stearns and shame on each and every one of the representatives who voted to make compensation for 9/11 first responders reliant upon a check for "terrorist" activities. Shame is a concept that blankets American actions as it responded to that grave day. I won't belabor the many instances where this nation either killed or maimed others either in retribution or in the pretense at keeping the rest of us "safe" but I will say that this last act of betrayal by elected officials places all of us in greater danger. Frankly, if we don't counter this betrayal, we deserve what we get.

What has come over us? Have we completely lost the ability to function as compassionate adults in an imperfect world? Think for one minute about the ramifications of such an act:

On 9/11/2001 when many people fled the horror of the scene at Ground Zero, countless firefighters, police officers, and brave civilian volunteers rushed to the scene to help. I believe that my own daughter who was on that day four or five months pregnant was almost home free precisely because others helped her almost, almost to safety. How many others walked away because they were provided help? We can only guess at the numbers. How many families of first responders are like my own -- ten years out still suffering the effects of PTSD? We will never be whole again.

And now, before the government hands over fair compensation, compensation provided ten years post what would have been considered justice, this final slap. You must prove you were not a perpetrator of the horror in order to get what you justly deserve at the very minimum. Had these folks asked the same of their own government prior to that day, more would have died.

Imagine that this is the message we send to future people with an impulse toward compassion. Imagine what we teach our future generations about the value of service.

Those in need of this compensation may indeed be living less than stellar lives. They may be terrorists. They may be criminals. They may be serial killers, perverts, child abusers, pick your demon. Who the hell are you? There may indeed be abuses of any system. This will not prevent those abuses. This is a rhetorical move to once again pad political careers by keeping the citizenry at war. Shame on all of you.

On that day America needed the help of our first responders. On that day and for months after, they provided that help at great cost to their own futures. To be sure we will need the help of others again. In a world so stingy with trust, compassion and dignity, we surely will have much more violence and next time, they may think twice.

We throw the term hero at sports figures. We deny that stature to those who really serve. I am ashamed that you think you represent me.