Everyone in the nation, if not the majority of the world, will remember for the rest of their lives exactly where they were when they first heard that the World Trade Center buildings had been struck by airplanes. Everyone remembers exactly with whom they were with as they watched these immense beacons of capitalism collapse under the intense heat of burning jet fuel, causing the unthinkable loss of thousands of innocent Americans lives. The large majority of the country remembers watching the non-stop news coverage of the devastation over the next week, wondering how we would recover but knowing that somehow we would.
For World Trade Center first responders, the horrors of September 11th went well past the first few days and weeks. At first, responders filed through the debris hoping to find someone, anyone alive. Those hopes were soon dashed as responders realized, and as Mayor Guliani was told by the NYC Coroner's office, body bags would not be needed. The rescue mission now changed, the responders' job had become two-fold, find remains for the loved ones left behind to have closure and proper burial services and remove the debris in order to restore this site to its previous glory. They recognized that their work at Ground Zero was for the good of the country. Responders kept this mission for nearly a year, admirably and heroically completing their call-of-duty. Their abnormal work restored a sense of normalcy to the masses.
In the aftermath of their work, thousands of responders became ill due to the toxic exposures they endured while within the World Trade Center Site. Today, hundreds have succumbed to their illnesses, leaving behind families and loved ones whose September 11th memories continue to be altered. Weekly a new family relives that fateful day anew.
Thousands more responders suffer daily from the memories and intrusive thoughts of what they witnessed while sifting through the debris, encountering that which should never be described in writing. For these responders, September 11th does not merely reflect a day, week or even months. Instead it is a lifetime of psychological digestion, one only truly understood by others that worked on the pile.
As the 11th anniversary of that terrible day draws near the FealGood Foundation reflects on all those lost during the attacks and continues to mourn their senseless loss. We remember all the families whose lives were so tragically altered by the actions of cowards. We grieve for the children who were forced to grow up without a mother or father and for the parents who lost a son or daughter. September 11th has become, for us, a day of cleansing, where we recognize that our current petty struggles are not so grave in the much larger picture. September 11th helps us remember that the most important thing in life is family and friends, and that we must relay that love to all we cherish.
Unfortunately, at the FealGood Foundation, September 11th is also a day of preparation for September 12th and the remaining 363 days of the year, as first responders now relive that tragic day and their work in its aftermath on a daily basis. For many responders, everyday has become September 11th. The FealGood Foundation merely attempts to do our utmost to assist them in their time of need, as they assisted this great nation eleven years ago.
On September 11th, and everyday thereafter, the FealGood Foundation says "Thank You" to all those men and women that lifted this country off its knees following the attacks and announced to all those that would do our county harm, "We Will Prevail."