By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
The union’s Disability Advisory Committee paid special tribute to World Trade Center victims and survivors on the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
“Our lives changed forever,” said Shaun D. Francois I, Board of Education Employees Local 372 president and chair of the union’s Disability Advisory Committee. “9/11 took out thousands of lives in one day. First responders came to save others and lost their lives. Today we remember and pay respect to their sacrifice and memory.”
Earlier in the day, DC 37 leaders and staff gathered in front of union headquarters to place a traditional wreath for the four members who made the ultimate sacrifice: Rev. Mychal F. Judge, FDNY Chaplain, Local 299; Carlos Lillo, Paramedic, Local 2507; OTB Betting Clerk Chet Louie, Local 2021, and Lt. Ricardo Quinn, Paramedic, Local 3621.
September 11 is very personal for DC 37 staff because the day’s events unfolded outside union headquarters and shuttered the union hall for months as municipal workers cleaned up Ground Zero and provided services that helped New York City recover.
“Sometimes I don’t want to remember,” said Vincent Variale, president of the Uniformed EMS Officers Local 3621. “We will never forget the loss and horror. It was like a war zone.
“We must tell their stories to keep their memory alive and fight for those who are dying 17 years later because they ran towards the danger, worked on the pile or at Fresh Kills or the City Morgue,” Variale said.
“Three thousand died and 3,000 more have died since 9/11 from illnesses,” said Uniformed EMTs and Paramedics President Oren Barzilay.
DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido noted that the union is pushing for legislation to help those who became sick after 9/11 so they receive proper medical care.
“We fight for dignity and make the lives of our members and all New Yorkers better,” he said.
Survivors of 9/11 are encouraged to join the WTC Health Monitoring Program at www.cdc.gov/wtc.
The DC 37 Blog is an online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 125,000 municipal employees in New York City. This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Public Employee Press.