In the morning of September 11 James Zadroga, an NYPD detective was driving home after an arraignment in the city. He was almost there when he turned on the radio, he grabbed a bag and rushed back to Manhattan, leaving his crying wife Rhonda who was seven months pregnant.
In the city he was assigned to a traffic post, but made his way to the World Trade Center, one among ten thousand who combed the wreckage of the North and South Towers for three weeks after the attacks.
So much is clear, so much is unclear. Why an otherwise healthy, fit, and strong NYPD detective, 216 pounds, six feet tall, who had never smoked, and never suffered from asthma, was forced to go sick in 2002, and why he died in 2006 – aged 34. His last year was spent tethered to an oxygen bottle, gasping for each breath.
For many the debris that swirled in the air in the wake of the twin towers has never settled. 3,000 people died and the list is still growing. We look to science and medicine for answers, we find doubt, we could have looked to law for justice, but we found fear. There are many open questions that may never be answered about 911 and its aftermath, but what we owe James Zadroga and his 4 year old daughter is not one of them. We should weigh a doubt upon a certainty and support the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
The act reopens the Victims’ Compensation Fund, ensures medical treatment and monitoring for first responders, and offers liability protections for New York City.
The bill passed the House last month and is fast tracked for action as soon as the Senate returns in November. Please ask your Senator to support the James Zadroga 911 Health and Compensation Act.