First Responders Must Sit Out Sept. 11 Ceremony

The firefighters, police, medics and volunteers who rushed to the scene of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 attacks will not be invited to the tenth anniversary memorial ceremony in New York. This announcement has led to anger and frustration among many first responders. But the mayor's office says the new site at Memorial Plaza is simply too small.


We're gonna hear now, why the police, firefighters, and others who rushed to the scene at Ground Zero will not be invited to the tenth anniversary memorial ceremony of the 9-11 attacks in New York.

That announcement from the mayor's office has fueled anger and frustration among many first responders.

NPR's Margot Adler reports.

MARGOT ADLER: Andrew Brent as spokesperson for Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a statement that the first priority was accommodating the family members of victims, and that the new smaller site on Memorial Plaza poses new space constraints.

The statement added, we're working to find ways to recognize and honor first responders and other groups at different places and times.

Mr. ANTHONY FLAMIA(ph) (Retired New York Police Officer): It just was, you know, a total disrespect of the responders.

ADLER: Anthony Flamia, a retired and disabled New York police officer, injured during his work at Ground Zero, says that's absurd. He says they were the ones who put the city back together, and he is not alone in his views.

Mr. JAMES RYDER(ph) (Ret. New York Police Officer): I was there on day one, and I was there for four years.

ADLER: James Ryder is also a retired officer with the NYPD who worked on DNA identification of body parts and other items at Ground Zero. As for the responders not being invited...

Mr. RYDER: We don't know why. Michael Bloomberg is a very intelligent man. There's always ways you can figure out something and the good Mayor Bloomberg figured out a way to get a third term. And if that took him a little while and some effort, I'm sure he could have figured out a way to invite us down there.

ADLER: The mayor's office has not yet come up with any alternatives, but first responders are organizing on their own. They've raised more than $150,000 for a 9-11 First Responders Remembered Memorial Park with a wall of names. It will be unveiled in Nesconset Long Island on September 10th.

Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

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