Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thoughts on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

How many of us looked up at the blue sky yesterday and remembered the unimaginable tragedy that unfolded ten years ago at the World Trade Center? Sven and I were home that day, and construction of our studio was under way. It is one of those rare times, like President Kennedy’s assassination, that we all remember exactly what we were doing at the moment those planes crashed into the World Trade Center. Our whole society changed dramatically that day.

9/11 touched Wellfleet in a personal way: two residents were murdered. For nine years there was a bronze memorial plaque at the post office, but it has disappeared, so I cannot give you both names. I only know the back story for one of the victims. Berry Berenson boarded American Airlines Flight 11 in Boston, to fly to Los Angeles and see family. I always thought, how crazy: that could have happened to me.

On this day of remembrance, we also need to think about the folks who tried to rescue those who died that day. You may have heard that the 9/11 responders do not receive health coverage that covers cancer. Congress should be ashamed of this decision.

I scratched my head last week as I read a Boston Globe headline: “Ground zero dust study finds no death increase.” How different from the treatment in the Guardian: “World Trade Centre rescuers at higher risk of cancer, Lancet reveals.” It was fascinating to me to compare the two reports on the exact same news. How could they be so different? The Guardian further stated, “The cancers are various, but the most common were those of the skin, prostate, thyroid and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The authors say a link between exposure to the pollutants given off by the World Trade Centre and cancer is biologically plausible because ‘some contaminants in the WTC dust, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, and dioxins, are known carcinogens.’”

Everyone knows breathing in toxic dust at ground zero cannot have been good for health.

There was also an article in today's New York Times on the dust, and what the paper calls, "the greatest environmental disaster in New York's history."

This week CNN’s senior health reporter Sanjay Gupta even did a special called "Terror in the Dust." I have not yet seen it but hope to.

Where were you on 9/11? Do you see 9/11 as the day that changed the world forever?