U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens/The Bronx), the House Democratic Caucus chairman, is introducing legislation calling for public safety officers who responded to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and died due to 9/11-related health conditions to receive the Presidential Medal of Valor.
In 2004, Crowley, backed by members of New York’s congressional delegation, paved the way for passage of legislation to establish the Presidential Medal of Valor award for the brave men and women who died on September 11, 2001 in the line of duty. The new legislation, the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor Act of 2017—which will be introduced next week when Congress returns—would extend the honor to the public safety officers who died as a result of 9/11-related illnesses.
The legislation coincides with the 16th anniversary of introduction of the original Presidential Medal of Valor Act.
“The Medal of Valor is but a small token of appreciation for the bravery and strength of the men and women who sacrificed their lives answering the call in our nation’s darkest hour,” Crowley said in a statement. “We lost hundreds of public servants that day, but many more have since been taken from us, succumbing to 9/11 related illnesses. They too are heroes and deserving of this recognition. America has not forgotten them and we are eternally grateful for their service.”
Public safety officers who participated in the response to the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or the attack that led to the crash of the fourth airplane in Pennsylvania anytime from September 11, 2001 to July 31, 2002—and died from a WTC-related health condition—are eligible to receive the honor, according to the bill’s text.
The New York City delegation has expressed support for the act, including U.S. Reps. José Serrano (D-The Bronx), Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan), Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan), Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) and Adriano Espaillat (D-Upper Manhattan). U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Queens), Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), Dan Donovan (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn), Tom Souzzi (D-Queens/Nassau County), Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn/Queens) and Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) also support the legislation.
In 2010, Crowley played a key role in passing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to offer first responders and workers health monitoring and care. Crowley lost his cousin, FDNY Battalion Chief John Moran, on 9/11.
“Congressman Crowley’s introduction of this piece of legislation is proof that yesterday’s heroes are not forgotten,” John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation, said. “To be able to say you were awarded the 9/11 Medal of Valor 16 plus years later is validation of your heroic actions for our city and nation.”
Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, said it was key to remember the sacrifices “so that we never become complacent in our fight to protect our great country.”
“The Port Authority Police Benevolent Association fully endorses expanding the 9/11 Medal of Valor honor posthumously and thanks Congressman Crowley for reminding our nation that after effects of the 9/11 attacks continue to impact many in ways that could not have been contemplated immediately after these horrific incidences,” Nunziato said.
Patrick Lynch, president of Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said that officers and first responders are “hero(es) who deserve to be recognized and honored.”
“For New York City police officers and other first responders, the September 11 terrorist attacks are still an unfinished chapter and will likely remain so for quite some time. Every year, more of the women and men who participated in the rescue, recovery and clean-up operations fall ill as a result of their time spent working in the toxic atmosphere. Every year, more of them succumb to their illnesses.”