9/11 Anniversary Marked Under Cloud of Health Problems, Funding Fights

Eleven years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, New Yorkers will mark the anniversary on Tuesday against a backdrop of health concerns for emergency workers and a feud over financing that has stopped construction of the $1 billion Ground Zero museum.

One step forward was last fall’s opening of the September 11 Memorial at Ground Zero, twin reflecting pools in the footprints of the towers. More than four million people have visited the memorial since the opening. Photo: Stephen Weppler/Flickr

US President Barack Obama urged Americans to honor first responders and men and women in uniform who keep the country safe as he marked the eleventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, reports The Raw Story.

“It’s a chance to honor the courage of the first responders who risked their lives – on that day, and every day since,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

“And it’s an opportunity to give thanks for our men and women in uniform who have served and sacrificed, sometimes far from home, to keep our country safe,” said the president.

However, notes Reuters, while notable progress on redevelopment of the World Trade Center has been made since early disputes over financial, design and security issues, the project remains hobbled by political battles and billions of dollars in cost overruns.

A major sticking point is the museum at the heart of the World Trade Center (WTC) site redevelopment. Construction has been suspended because of a feud over finances between the National September 11 Memorial and Museum foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

For many of the families of 9/11 victims and ailing Ground Zero workers, the redevelopment disputes are a disheartening sideshow to the rising loss of human lives.

When in 2001 the 110-storey Twin Towers came down, thousands of tons of steel, concrete, window glass and asbestos came down with it. While thousands of gallons (litres) of flaming jet fuel and burning plastics released deadly carcinogens.

“We’re burying guys left and right,” said Nancy Carbone, executive director of Friends of Firefighters, a Brooklyn-based non-profit that helps treat first responders. “This is an ongoing epidemic.”

According to some estimates, the overall death toll from 9/11-related illness makes more than 1,000.

In the past seven weeks, three New York City cops, two firefighters and a construction union worker who toiled at Ground Zero have died of cancer or respiratory illnesses, according John Feal, who runs a non profit that monitors Ground Zero health care issues.

One more problem is tourists’ attitude towards the memorial. Tourists have been showing “disrespect” at the Ground Zero memorial in New York ahead of the 11th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to victims’ relatives.

In a letter to memorial president Joe Daniels, first responder Marianne Pizzitola said she found people acting “like this was a park or playground,” reports The Telegraph.

She said: “People laughed and took pictures smiling, and so many people leaned on the tablets with all of my friends’ names engraved in them, holding Starbucks cups, like it was a kitchen table.”

Overall site redevelopment costs have grown to nearly $15 billion, up from $11 billion in 2008, according to a recent project audit.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has donated $15 million of his own money to the museum project.

A spokeswoman for Mr Bloomberg told the New York Times: “The delay is hugely disappointing to family members of victims and the many stakeholders who have worked hard to curate the museum.

“But we are confident that the finished product will be the definitive historical accounting of that terrible day.”

Memories remain raw of the day when Al-Qaeda hijackers slammed two passenger planes into the World Trade Center in New York, destroying its iconic Twin Towers, and a third into the Pentagon building, in the nation’s capital.

A fourth plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field when the passengers valiantly overpowered the hijackers. Almost 3,000 people were killed that day in the worst attacks on American soil.

It is alreay known that Barack Obama will mark the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with a series of commemorations in and near Washington.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will gather Tuesday morning on the White House lawn for a moment of silence. Afterwards, they’ll attend a memorial at the Pentagon. In the afternoon, Obama will visit with wounded service members and their families at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

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