Gathering to honor passage of Zadroga 9/11 Health bill


BY John Bayles

The key players in the fight to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act gathered on Monday evening at the NYC Police Museum. Among those in attendance were U.S. Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, who spearheaded the bill through the House of Representatives last fall and John Feal of the Fealgood Foundation.

Feal, who was a first responder and has made 90 trips to Washington D.C. since 9/11 said the night “solidified” the work of everyone involved. He hopes to make the gathering an annual event.

“I almost cried,” said Feal, “and I’m not a crier. Last night put closure to a long journey and ended a chapter of hard work.”

“It was an honor to celebrate the passage of the Zadroga Act with the 9/11 responders and survivors who suffered so much after the attacks and fought so hard to ensure that the Zadroga Act became the Zadroga law,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “I was thrilled that Jon Stewart was able to be there, as well – Mr. Stewart’s push for the bill in the waning days of the last Congress was a decisive factor in our success.”

Stewart, the host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, devoted an entire episode in the days leading up to Zadroga’s passage to the issue. Community Board 1, at a recent WTC Redevelopment Committee meeting chaired by Catherine McVay Hughes, passed a resolution thanking Stewart and a long list of other community groups and union groups for their role in the bill’s passage.

Feal was also grateful for Stewart’s appearance at the event and for his dedication to the 9/11 community.

“It took a comedian to shed light on a serious issue,” said Feal of Stewart. “This guy sitting behind a desk making fun of the news shamed the national media outlets into doing the right thing. He moved mountains.”

McVay Hughes said the fact that the bill was finally passed was the “sweet” part of the evening. But she also noted that in less than five years everyone will have to “fight again to make sure that what has been achieved now, is continued.”

“It was a sense of relief that the 9/11 health bill passed,” said McVay Hughes, “but it was a bittersweet gathering because it represented years of fighting for 9/11 health care for responders and survivors. And some of them have even died since 9/11.”

Feal echoed Hughes, but said he was 100 percent positive the bill would be renewed when the time comes.

“Last night’s celebration was short lived and while it was memorable, we have a lot more work to do,” said Feal.