Dear Members and Supporters,

Here we are again, another September 11, 2001 Anniversary. In so many ways I am as conflicted as I was six years ago, during the 5th Anniversary – the galas, conferences, luncheons, and the endless reels of retread documentaries, the museum’s construction delays, the desecration of the memorial by the circus like atmosphere and the politicization of all that is September 11. I attended the September 11 Museum and Memorial Dinner last Tuesday evening. Walking through the unrecognizable crowd, my eyes crossed a retired fire fighter, friend, fellow rescue/recovery worker, who had searched for his murdered FDNY son and others’ loved ones for nine months. We embraced and said little, words are not necessary. His smile and mine spoke volumes. We are alive and we here for a purpose. God has blessed us and the good work we performed then and continue today.
The hope we spread when sharing our hard earned expertise with first responders and civilian communities in crisis throughout this country and Haiti is a very powerful and necessary message. Hope and resiliency may be New York City’s greatest export and the retired NYPD, FDNY, PAPD and NY’s Building Trade unions, H.E.A.R.T. 9/11 members, are the city’s greatest ambassadors. When I stand proudly with H.E.A.R.T. 9/11 members at one of our twenty eight deployments, I know the selfless sacrifices that our brother and sisters in the performance of their duty on 9/11 and the memory of the innocent victims will never die. As we build another home for the severely injured returning troops, the message of hope is passed from those who were brought to their knees but have now recovered, to those who took the fight away from our shores and to the enemy, but now need our help.
We are all susceptible to cynicism, the negatives will always be amplified by the media and those with self serving agendas. But, I always return to the time spent during the WTC rescue/recovery mission where in spite of our disagreements, we always put the mission first and moved forward. The stakes were too high. I still have confidence in the people of NYC, the uniformed services, the family groups, the museum and memorial staff, the political representatives and the media to pull together and make us proud.
One example of why I am optimistic….after many years, too many years, and as a result of so many good people – the WTC rescue/recovery workers and those living or working in Downtown NYC, will now be covered for health issues related to cancers emanating from their exposure to the toxins released on 9/11/2001. I never thought we would see this day, costs estimates were too high, but because the people demanded the recognition that the WTC site is making us sick, we now have the inclusion of cancer as a health consequence of the WTC attacks.
We only need to look back at what sustained us during that trying horrific time and treat each other with the same respect and we will see our path into the future.

Bill Keegan

Founder/President H.E.A.R.T. 9/11