Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

NYC's Sept. 11 Memorial to Honor Ground Zero Recovery Workers

  • The Memorial and Museum plans to add permanent tribute
  • Thousands responded and suffered illnesses from toxic dust

A permanent installation honoring World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers who risked their health in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will be added to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in lower Manhattan.

The tribute will be situated in a grassy glade on the southwest corner of the 8-acre plaza at Ground Zero, with memorial architect Michael Arad participating in its design, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office said in a news release. The announcement came on the May 30 anniversary of the day in 2002 when clearing of debris and intensive search for victims’ remains ceased, Memorial and Museum officials said in a news release.

Thousands of emergency and construction workers, health professionals and volunteers converged at the World Trade Center site immediately after the 2001 attack and hundreds worked there for months, exposed to toxic dust and smoke. Of more than than 77,000 enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program, more than 39,000 have suffered illnesses related to 9/11, including more than 6,000 with cancer, according to the Memorial and Museum. 

One of them, New York firefighter Ray Pfeifer, 59, died Sunday of cancer, after lobbying Congress to provide health benefits for those suffering ailments after responding to the attack.

“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,” said television entertainer Jon Stewart, a member of the Memorial board, in a statement. 

More than 23 million people have visited the memorial grounds since it opened in 2011, and more than 4 million have toured its museum, which has collected more than 60,000 artifacts to tell the story of the attack and its global impact.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged the state’s support for the addition to the memorial. It will also receive funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, controlled by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is chairman of the Memorial and Museum board as well as founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News.

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