Fifteen years to the day since recovery efforts at Ground Zero formally ended, officials announced that the men and women who spent nine months working amid its rubble will be permanently honored at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
The dedication, which will be located on the Memorial Glade on the 8-acre plaza’s southwest corner, will also touch on the effects the attack had on the health of survivors, city residents, responders and others.
"Many rescue and recovery workers will tell you that they responded to Ground Zero because they felt a duty to act. Without regard for their own health and well-being, and with no demand for recognition, these men and women played a critical role in helping us all in New York and across the country get back on our feet,” former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart, a board member of the memorial and museum and a longtime advocate for healthcare and benefits for the first responders, said in a statement Tuesday. “Today, thousands are living with serious illnesses and dying at an alarming rate. I’m thrilled this is finally happening, that this dedication will give them the recognition they’re due."
The announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, museum and board Chairman Michael Bloomberg and Stewart arrived just days after a former first responder died of cancer at age 59.
Ray Pfeifer, a nearly 28-year veteran of the FDNY, died Sunday of the cancer he developed six years after he spent eight months at Ground Zero. Pfeifer, who lost a portion of his leg and a kidney to the cancer, traveled to Washington more than a dozen times to advocate for the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act that passed in 2010 and gave healthcare to first responders though 2090.
Through June 4, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum will host various tributes to those who spent months working at Ground Zero until the recovery and relief efforts ended on May 30, 2002.
The dedication for the rescue and recovery workers at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum will be jointly funded by New York state, its affiliations and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
"Thousands of people converged at the World Trade Center site immediately after the attacks to show the world that our city and our country were not defeated,” Bloomberg said. “We owe these men and women of the recovery a great debt of gratitude, and they deserve a fitting tribute for their courage, sacrifice and bravery."