In a ground shattering instant, thousands of lives were lost. A community was transformed into an unfamiliar warzone full of people who were suddenly lost, fearful, and detached from the rest of the world. The way of life as they knew it was shattered; families lost loved ones and friends without a forewarning, a chance to escape or say their goodbyes. Despite massive rescue efforts the mass desperation seemed hopeless. Many of you reading this may assume that I am describing the events in Haiti, but the horrific scene I am depicting happened in our own country on September 11, 2001.
Of the 40,000 people who responded to Ground Zero after the attacks, 70 percent, or 33,000, are sick, dying, or have already died as a result of their service. More than one third of the uniformed and non-uniformed workers and volunteers who responded to the search and clean-up were from New Jersey. Few people in the tri-state area were not directly impacted in some way by theses terrorist attacks, but the rest of the country may only remember the catastrophic event and not realize that people are still suffering the aftermath today. Sadly, there is an epidemic going on in our own backyards and many Americans are not even fully aware that it is happening.