By Frank Pallotta
It was the morning of September 11, 2001 and my co-workers were on the phone with their usual contacts at the World Trade Center—except they weren’t executing trades. They were pleading with the workers trapped in the burning buildings not to jump.
Like so many of us in New Jersey, the 9/11 terror attacks hit close to home for me. I worked near lower Manhattan just a few miles from what is now Ground Zero, and my wife skipped a meeting that day that would have placed her at the base of the towers when the first plane hit. It was also my son Daniel’s eighth birthday. That morning, as we remember so well, looked like it was going to be the perfect, sun-filled day to celebrate.
How wrong we were.
We felt the rumble of the plane overhead from our downtown office just before the first impact. Within a matter of moments, everyone’s eyes were glued to televisions around the trading floor. Our team watched in horror as eventually both buildings began to burn. As so many panicked parents were, my wife and I wondered frantically about how we’d get back home to our boys. Once the towers fell – one right after the other – it was clear that nothing would ever be the same again.
Only the Hudson River separates northern New Jersey from the site of the most horrific attacks in our nation’s history. We remember the thick clouds of smoke that cut across the crystal blue skies, and the stunned commuters coming off the trains, busses and ferries covered in soot. But most importantly, we remember the people who left that morning and never came home.
Many of us lost friends, loved ones, and colleagues who perished as casualties in a war against our great country and way of life that day. But what about those who are still suffering and dying from ailments related to that day? What about those who sacrificed everything to ensure the safety of others?
What should never be forgotten about September 11th is not the cowardice of those who perpetrated the attack, but the heroic bravery of our first responders who rushed in to evacuate as many as they could, triage the wounded and battle through thick smoke and never ending staircases to save as many lives as possible. Many of our own first responders from New Jersey also selflessly answered the call in the cleanup and recovery in the days that followed. The number of missing, wounded and dead after the attacks was difficult to process, but it would have been unfathomable if our first responders hadn’t risked everything to save as many as they could.
This week, President Trump and Congress worked together to pass and sign the permanent extension of the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund. This critical legislation, which provides funding to first responders and their families for medical expenses related to exposure to carcinogenic elements at the site, ensures our heroes are taken care of as they battle with the effects of their selfless and heroic efforts that day.
First responders on-scene during the September 11th attacks, and in the weeks and months that followed, were the silver lining to one of the darkest days in American history. Their heroism didn’t just save lives but kept our country together for the many painful days that followed. All Americans can be proud that we will now be able to do everything we can to make sure our heroes can continue to live their lives, and that their needs will be met by a grateful nation.
Frank Pallotta is a Father, Husband, Former Senior Banking Executive and a Small Business Owner, running for Congress in New Jersey’s 5th District against Incumbent Congressman Josh Gottheimer. Learn more about Frank and get the latest updates at PallottaforCongress.com