Opinion

OPINION: Many get Forgotten Despite the "Never Forget" Motto of 9/11

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OPINION | The opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer, and may not necessarily reflect those of Tatum Report LLC

After the devastating terrorist attacks on 9/11, there was a universal call from Americans: “Never Forget.” There’s even a “Never Forget Project” whose mission is to support FDNY families affected by 9/11. Being a retired cop and my wife a retired firefighter, we will never forget—Never.

Terrorists extinguished the lives of nearly 3,000 souls that day, including 414 first responders. It’s critically important that those left behind get to honor them in a significant way. But the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is not inviting the brothers and sisters of those cops and firefighters who fell on 9/11. They are not welcome to honor these heroes with the families of the deceased on this 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attacks.

The fallen included 71 NYPD and NY/NJ Port Authority police officers and 343 FDNY firefighters. This tragic number has risen exponentially in the two decades since 9/11, with rescuers who survived suffering psychological trauma and physical illnesses, and injuries from exposure to toxins at the scene.

The website ODMP.com (Officer Down Memorial Page) displays hundreds of photographs of the law enforcement officers “representing 10 different agencies, who died as a direct result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.”

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FOX News Channel’s Carley Shimkus interviewed retired NYPD Detective Angel Maysonet about this slight against first responders. The 9/11 Memorial has not invited cops and firefighters, but they’ve invited politicians. Maysonet said, “Politicians will be allowed there to use this as a photo-op,” but not first responders.

Shimkus asked Maysonet why he believes they are excluding cops and firefighters. Maysonet replied he doesn’t know specifically, but he’s afraid those who said they’d never forget are forgetting.

FOX News displayed a statement from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s spokeswoman Lee Cochran saying, “Only family members are invited… The invited family members can bring as many additional family-member guests as they’d like.”

Ironically, at their website, 911memorial.org, they request donations for “The Never Forget Fund.” “Hope. Resilience. Unity.” is the fund’s motto. Maybe not so much with the “Unity” part.

Shimkus noted many first responders know family members of the fallen and could go as guests. However, the FOX host said, “They should be extending with open arms an invitation to somebody like you.”

Maysonet said, “Absolutely… they [the fallen] are our family members….” And that’s how cops and firefighters look at this. In most professions, you have professional, cordial, even friendly relations with your co-workers. First responders depend on each other for their safety and lives. If that doesn’t raise the relationship to the level of family, then nothing does.

According to the Washington Times, the 9/11 Memorial excluded first responders from an invitation and survivors of the attacks from this momentous 20th anniversary. But it sounds like more a matter of the 9/11 Memorial choosing when and when not to enforce attendance rules they’ve already had in place.

The Times reported, “Jim Riches, a retired firefighter whose firefighter son, Jimmy, was killed in the attacks, has attended every 9/11 ceremony and said many first responders were admitted without passes.” Riches added, “They turn a blind eye and let them in,” he said. “I know some in full uniform have gotten in and also seen others turned away.”

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Another parent of a firefighter named Christian killed on 9/11, Sally Regenhard, also brought up the “family” issue for firefighters and cops. “People in the uniformed services consider the people they work with as brothers and sisters — they’re a family. They [9/11 Memorial] should make an effort to have every single first responder who would like to attend go. It should be open to all of them, especially those who answered the call of duty on 9/11,” she said.

Many family members of those killed in the attacks believe the 9/11 Memorial should invite first responders and survivors. A man employed by Fuji Bank, Tim Frolich, said he suffered a crushed foot in the South Tower collapse. He says a firefighter and two Port Authority police officers rescued him and brought him to safety. Apparently, according to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, none of these four people are invited to the ceremony.

How many more insults must cops endure? Especially since this insult comes from an organization specifically created to honor the heroic police and firefighter sacrifices made that day. Sacrifices that all cops and firefighters are ready and willing to make today if America were to suffer another evil attack against innocents.

The FDNY is sponsoring a 20th-anniversary memorial mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The service will begin at 1:30 p.m.

 

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Steve Pomper is an author, freelance writer, and retired Seattle police officer. During his career, he served as a field training officer, on the Community Police Team, and as a mountain bike patrol coordinator. He’s written five books, including The Obama Gang and De-Policing America, and he is a contributor to the National Police Association and a freelance writer for The Tatum Report.

Originally from New England, he’s a Boston sports fan. He now lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. He enjoys spending time with his adult kids and three grandchildren.




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