Today's date raises different emotions out of each person.
For some, the only reaction is sadness. The loss of a relative, friend or colleague due to the attacks of September 11, 2001 have made some of us numb. Some of us feel anger and outrage and a desire for revenge. Still some of just don't feel anything.
I organized and ran Northeastern University's September 11 Memorial and Vigil between 2003-2005. Each year, fewer people attended. Finally, in 2005 someone wrote a letter to the editor of the school's newspaper, basically saying that it was time to move on and forget about 9/11.
Indeed September 11, 2001 has been used by both sides of many issues to create political arguments about war, terror and individual rights. For this reporter, that day was not about war, or terror or individual rights. September 11 was about people at their worst and at their best.
It was about the sheer lack of hesitation shown by hundreds of firefighters as they ran up 100 flights of stairs to save a few people locked inside their offices. And while the office workers ran down, freed, the rescuers continued upward.
If there is going to be a political argument about September 11, I will make the argument that when everyone else is running away from something, these people are running towards it. Yet fire houses and police stations continue to close nationwide while health benefits start to slide. The American hero worship that took place immediately after 9/11 has been lost, and I consider that a true shame.
The movie World Trade Center was emotional and moving. It was a tasteful portrayal of the suffering that took place that day and the bravery of rescuers that takes place every day. The movie is a true story, and if anything, the literal sea of rescuers the movie portrayed was underestimated.
I know this because my father, a veteran Connecticut firefighter, was there.
So, while police and fire stations continue to close and benefits continue to get cut, a new great tragedy arises. Most of the rescuers that volunteered their time and energy saving lives in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center have or will soon develop serious respiratory problems, according to reports. So far, almost 70 percent of all New York City 9/11 rescue workers have been affected.
The loss of life on 9/11 was unimaginable and terrible, but we now face an aftermath that may take or shorten more lives than originally lost five years ago today. But fire houses and police stations continue to close. Medical benefits continue to be cut.
And then you can make every other political and cultural argument you'd like, but you will find me insistent on the argument for the rescuers.
Many people said that the two Hollywood films released about the September 11 attacks were "too soon." I say, if we have forgotten so much, so soon, perhaps they were too late.
Join John Guilfoil tonight at 7:00 outside 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, for a vigil and memorial.