NATIONAL NEWS

At 9/11 Memorial, New Recognition For A Longer-Term Toll

Sep 9, 2019, 10:24 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:02 pm
Retired FDNY firefighter and 9/11 first responder Rob Serra touches one of the stone monoliths foll...
Retired FDNY firefighter and 9/11 first responder Rob Serra touches one of the stone monoliths following the dedication ceremony for the new 9/11 Memorial Glade at the National September 11 Memorial, May 30, 2019 in New York City. The 9/11 Memorial Glade honors the first responders who are sick or have died from exposure to toxins in the aftermath of the attacks and recovery efforts. The signature piece of the memorial are six stone monoliths that are inlaid with World Trade Center steel. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — When the names of nearly 3,000 Sept. 11 victims are read aloud Wednesday at the World Trade Center, a half-dozen stacks of stone will quietly salute an untold number of people who aren’t on the list.

The granite slabs were installed on the memorial plaza this spring. They recognize an initially unseen toll of the 2001 terrorist attacks: firefighters, police and others who died or fell ill after exposure to toxins unleashed in the wreckage.

The unusual addition reflects a memorial that is evolving as the aftermath of 9/11 does. And for families like Joanna Reisman’s, the new 9/11 Memorial Glade gives their loved ones a place in the landscape of remembrance at ground zero.

A firefighter’s widow, she emphasizes that the losses thousands of families suffered on Sept. 11 were horrific.

“We just have to recognize that there were others, too,” says Reisman, whose 54-year-old husband, Lt. Steven Reisman, searched through the World Trade Center debris for remains, and then died in 2014 of brain cancer. He was 54.

Subtle and sculptural, the memorial glade features six stone pieces inlaid with steel salvaged trade center steel. They jut from the ground along a tree-lined pathway.

Army Reserve Sgt. Edwin Morales, who lost his friend and firefighter Ruben David Correa in the 9/11 attacks, pauses as he touches one of the stone monoliths following the dedication ceremony for the new 9/11 Memorial Glade at the National September 11 Memorial, May 30, 2019 in New York City. The 9/11 Memorial Glade honors the first responders who are sick or have died from exposure to toxins in the aftermath of the attacks and recovery efforts. The signature piece of the memorial are six stone monoliths that are inlaid with World Trade Center steel. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Army Reserve Sgt. Edwin Morales, who lost his friend and firefighter Ruben David Correa in the 9/11 attacks, pauses as he touches one of the stone monoliths following the dedication ceremony for the new 9/11 Memorial Glade at the National September 11 Memorial, May 30, 2019 in New York City. The 9/11 Memorial Glade honors the first responders who are sick or have died from exposure to toxins in the aftermath of the attacks and recovery efforts. The signature piece of the memorial are six stone monoliths that are inlaid with World Trade Center steel. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Unlike the plaza’s massive waterfall pools memorializing people killed on 9/11 — those whose names are read at anniversary ceremonies — the boulders are not inscribed with the names of those they honor. There is no finite list of them, at least not yet.

Instead, nearby signs dedicate the glade “to those whose actions in our time of need led to their injury, sickness, and death,” including first responders, recovery workers, survivors and community members at the attack sites at the trade center, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The collapse of the trade center’s twin towers produced thick dust clouds, and fires burned for months in the rubble.

Many rescue and recovery workers later developed respiratory and digestive system ailments potentially linked to inhaled and swallowed dust. Some were diagnosed with other illnesses, including cancer.

Research continues into whether those illnesses are tied to 9/11 toxins. A 2018 study did not find higher-than-normal death rates overall among people exposed to the dust and smoke, but researchers have noted more deaths than expected from brain cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and certain other diseases; an unusual number of suicides among rescue and recovery workers. Studies also have suggested that highly exposed workers may face more problems, including somewhat higher death rates and a modestly higher risk of heart trouble, than less-exposed colleagues.

Over 51,000 people have applied to a victims compensation fund that makes payments to people with illnesses potentially related to 9/11; it has awarded over $5.5 billion so far. After impassioned advocacy, lawmakers this summer ensured it won’t run out of money .

None of that was foreseen when the memorial design was chosen in January 2004. But the selection jury “knew that we’d be picking something that allowed for an evolution of the site,” says member James E. Young, a retired University of Massachusetts Amherst professor.

As attention grew to the deaths of ailing 9/11 rescue, recovery and cleanup workers, some memorials elsewhere began adding their names . A remembrance wall focused on them was dedicated in 2011 in Nesconset, on Long Island.

But the trade center memorial has a “responsibility — especially where it’s located, on sacred ground — to continue to tell the story,” says John Feal, who lost part of a foot while working as a demolition supervisor there and later founded a charity that maintains the Nesconset memorial.

Ground zero memorial leaders had misgivings at first, memorial CEO Alice Greenwald says. They noted that the health problems were documented in the below-ground Sept. 11 museum, though it gets far fewer visitors than the memorial plaza. And the leaders felt protective of the memory of people killed on 9/11.

Responders and health advocates “could see what we couldn’t see right away … that this was really something that needed to be commemorated, as much as documented,” Greenwald said.

Plans for the $5 million glade, designed by memorial plaza architects Michael Arad and Peter Walker, were ultimately announced in 2017.

The traditional image of a memorial is an immutable tribute, literally written in stone — if also potentially susceptible to shifting views of its subject, as demonstrated by ongoing debate over Confederate statues around the American South.

But sometimes monuments adapt to take on more meanings.

Some memorials built after one war get expanded or rededicated to include veterans of other wars. A memorial to victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was destroyed on 9/11, and their names were included in the current memorial.

After the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built in Washington, additions nearby recognized nurses and other women who served, and veterans who died years later from lasting effects of the defoliant Agent Orange, post-traumatic stress disorder or other injuries that initially weren’t recognized.

Such memorials speak to a change over time in how, and whom, monuments commemorate, said Kirk Savage, a University of Pittsburgh art and architecture history professor and memorials expert.

Rather than a 19th-century leader on a pedestal, newer memorials often acknowledge everyday people’s involvement in historic events and shift focus “from recognizing people that we emulate to people that we grieve for,” he said.

Caryn Pfeifer has had many people to grieve for over the past 18 years.

First there were the colleagues and friends whom her husband, firefighter Ray Pfeifer, lost on 9/11 and whose remains he sought in the debris. Then there were those who got sick and died over the years, as he fought for health care for first responders while battling his own kidney cancer.

Now she also mourns her husband. He died in 2017, at 59.

With the new memorial glade, she says, “now we have a place to go and sit, think about everybody, and just pray for the next poor guy.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Davion Irvin was arrested late Thursday night and charged with six counts of animal cruelty-non-liv...
Chris Boyette and Vivian Kuo

Suspect arrested in case of tamarin monkeys missing from Dallas Zoo, police say

A 24-year-old man has been arrested in Dallas and charged in connection with the suspected theft of a pair of emperor tamarin monkeys that were recovered unharmed this week in an abandoned home a day after they vanished from the Dallas Zoo, police said.
10 hours ago
A suspected Chinese high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Montana, on February 1. (Larry Maye...
Oren Liebermann, Haley Britzky, Michael Conte and Nectar Gan, CNN

Pentagon tracking suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US

The U.S. is tracking a suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon over the continental United States, defense officials said on Thursday.
10 hours ago
This booking image provided by the Chicago Police Department, shows Eva Bratcher, who has been accu...
Associated Press

Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer

A Chicago woman is accused of keeping her mother’s dead body in a freezer for nearly two years while living in a nearby apartment.
1 day ago
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) leaves her office at the Longworth House Office Building on February 02...
Kevin Freking and Lisa Mascaro

House GOP votes to oust Democrat Omar from major committee

House Republicans have voted to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
1 day ago
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast at the U.S. Capitol on F...
Colleen Long and Chris Megerian, Associated Press

Biden urges unity at prayer breakfast under new management

President Joe Biden attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday in Washington and delivered a message of unity.
1 day ago
FILE: Groundhog handler AJ Derume holds Punxsutawney Phil, who saw his shadow, predicting a late sp...
Associated Press

Phil’s Groundhog Day prediction: 6 more weeks of winter

A furry critter in a western Pennsylvania town has predicted six more weeks of winter during an annual Groundhog Day celebration.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
At 9/11 Memorial, New Recognition For A Longer-Term Toll