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9/11 first responders shouldn’t have been excluded

Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 01:09

With the passing of the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks came a surge of heightened emotion throughout the U.S. Sunday. Yet, not all of that emotion funneled into pride, remembrance and the forward movement of the nation — some of it was channeled into pure disgust.

The World Trade Center (WTC) memorial ceremony, held at ground zero, was restricted to victims' families and politicians like President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush, while 9/11 first responders were among those who did not make the guest list.

It is hard to believe that the heavy amount of backlash from first responders and the rest of the nation was not foreseen by officials. Overwhelmingly, lack of invitation for these responders can be perceived as pure disrespect to those who risked their lives on that horrific day.

Politicians, such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials, cited space constraints and security issues as justification for why first responders were not invited.

"We just don't have room for them," Bloomberg told Fox News, while claiming that a separate ceremony would be provided for first responders on a different date.

According to CNN, many responders found this reasoning weak, especially since first responders were allowed to attend every other Sept. 11 commemoration until this year. To deny them admission on this symbolic occasion seems particularly unfair.

Anthony Flammia, a former New York City Police Officer and first responder, called the situation a "travesty" that is "absolutely ridiculous and disrespectful to the 9/11 community," according to the International Business Times. He argued from experience that New York City is fully equipped to handle large crowds and high security levels, proven by events such as massive parades and dignitaries' visits held in the city on a regular basis.

There is no doubt that families of victims should be a priority, but it is undeniable that the heroic first responders should have been honored properly as well. According to the New York Daily News, nearly 1,000 first responders had died as of November 2010, and the passing of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act seems to prove that medical concerns will persist with living first responders.

Other responders are suggesting that their lack of participation in the event was an attempt to keep their unaided medical ailments out of the public eye and out of the day's positive focus of rebuilding and moving forward, according to CNN.

Whatever the true reason for the restriction, it seems obvious that Americans would have hoped to honor these heroes in the utmost fashion, and a mistake was made in not doing so at the WTC memorial ceremony this year.

Tara Petzoldt is a junior majoring in political science.

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