Last night at Madison Square Garden, Pearl Jam honored the first responders of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the 21st anniversary of the tragedy. Frontman Eddie Vedder talked about meeting with a group of first responders before the show and being reminded of the importance of September 12 as a day when everyone came together in solidarity.
“9/11 was horrific, traumatic, despicable…but in some ways, 9/12 was awesome. 9/12 people came together as one. We were supported by the rest of the planet. And most importantly in our country, we supported each other. There was a time when we supported each other. That’s the part that we cannot forget. We can stay together. We don’t have to wait for another terrorist attack and suffer this thing of being divided,” Eddie Vedder said in sharing a conversation with First Responder Lt. Michael O’Connell, of the FDNY.
He called out the incredible work of John Feal, a retired construction worker who lost part of his foot while working at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the attacks and founded the FealGood Foundation to benefit responders who have suffered from numerous health issues ever since.
That same solidarity is needed now to ensure that the heroes of September 11 continue to receive the treatment they need for the significant injuries and illnesses sustained on and stemming from that horrific day, many caused by the toxic dust generated by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.
After 17 years of hard work from survivors and advocates, Congress finally responded to this crisis by creating the World Trade Center Health Program. Today, it encompasses more than 117,000 responders and survivors, most of whom are being treated for more than one illness. World Trade Center Health Program provides critical care but is facing an impending $3 billion budget shortfall.
Unless Congress acts by the end of the year, the program will be forced to stop accepting new members who are sick and to make additional cuts in services. The Bipartisan 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding and Correction Act would ensure the program gets the funding to meet the medical needs of 9/11 responders and survivors.
“So let those events we got through together all those years ago and that these men and women are still courageously healing from–let those lessons be remembered as our solidarity to come together and keep this country straight…this country that we love,” said Vedder.