It has been exactly eight years since the simple date September 11 became an horrific watershed moment for America and the rest of the world.
Still, after these eight years, new pictures continue to be made public of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the aftermath and even the Guantanamo detainee who claims he masterminded the whole atrocity. And after eight years, thousands of firefighters, police officers and civilians who ignored the toxic dust to clear the debris at Ground Zero are still fighting for compensation to help with respiratory illness, injury and the psychological damage. John Feal is among them. He said: “Don’t call us heroes. Don’t parade us around and then treat us like we are common trash. Because that’s what’s happening and I take that personally. I’ve been to too many funerals, I’ve been to too many hospitals, I’ve seen too many body parts removed from men and women, while we get to see more lip service from elected officials.” A compensation bill does exist, but still sits unpassed on desks in Congress. Campaigners like Denis Hughes met at Ground Zero on the eve of the grim anniversary to denounce the delays in getting compensation to the victims of the clean-up operation. “It’s an outrage that I stand before you and we haven’t got this bill passed. It is an outrage that people are denied benefits. It is an outrage that families find themselves in adverse economic conditions because this legislation has not been passed,” said Hughes. John Gallagher, who was one of the many who helped clear the debris of the Twin Towers, echoed this feeling of injustice: “Why? Why don’t we have this bill? We can spend money to bail out car companies. We bail out sick insurance companies but we don’t want to give money to sick workers. There is no excuse for it.” For many, after eight years, September 11 is not yet a scar but still an open wound.