OPINION: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams remembers 9/11
On the 13th anniversary of 9/11, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum will host its annual commemorative ceremony at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, and many Brooklynites will join the event in person, with even more watching on television or taking part in remembrances across our borough. But you might be surprised, as I am each passing year, how the ceremony itself—and our collective memory of that tragic day—seem to fade in importance as we go about our fast-paced and busy lives. It’s been 13 years since we were stopped in our tracks, and the momentum of life itself seems to make many of us think that the chance of anything happening again is remote.
I was a captain in the NYPD on that fateful day thirteen years ago, and—as it turned out for so many men and women in uniform like me—a first responder. If you got the call, or heard the sirens, or saw the smoke, and ran toward the chaos, the memory doesn’t fade. If you knew someone who gave his or her life trying to save other lives, then you can’t help but wonder why the events commemorating 9/11 grow sparser, our commitment to responders seems less heartfelt and our conversations about preparedness seem too few and far between.
On this 9/11 anniversary, let’s begin by ensuring the extension of the Zadroga Act so that our fearless first responders get the healthcare and treatment they both need and deserve. Providing life-saving care to those whose only thoughts were to help others is the right thing to do; it’s the only thing to do.
Let’s also give serious consideration to the fact that we’ve grown somewhat complacent about being prepared; and complacent is the last thing we should be given our past experience. Any good coach or army sergeant worth their salt will tell you that reaction time is the interval between a stimulus and the response to that stimulus. And while there are gifted athletes—and soldiers—with God-given abilities, overall response time can be improved by practice. New York City needs to do just that and step up work on our drills, thereby shortening our reaction time to any potential disaster through practice. So whether we ever face an actual disaster, emergency evacuation, the need to shelter, bad weather or any other potential hazardous conditions, New York will automatically react with our drills. They say practice makes perfect, but in this case, practice saves lives.
Memorials are for the living. The rituals give us strength, help us lovingly remember those we lost, and embolden us to—like those who have fallen—try to right the world’s wrongs. But as the crowd thins from this year’s remembrance of our 9/11 heroes, let’s not simply retreat, return to our busy, individual lives, but commit to work together as One Brooklyn, One New York, One America, always prepared to take care of our own