By Bill Parry
The chairman of the House Democratic Caucus wants to extend the Medal of Valor to public safety officers who died from 9/11-related illnesses.
U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), along with members of the New York City delegation, introduced the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor Act of 2017 to recognize people like Jimmy Lanza, of Woodside, a 28-year veteran of the FDNY who was part of a team that rescued 16 people trapped in the North Tower’s Miracle Stairwell B and then spent many months and hundreds of hours on the pile.
Lanza died in April at age 71 after a brutal battle with 9/11-related brain cancer.
“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. “We lost hundreds of public servants that day, but many more have 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.”
In 2004, Crowley paved the way for passage of legislation to create the Presidential Medal of Valor award for the men and women who died on Sept. 11, 2001, in the line of duty. The new legislation would extend the honor to the public safety officers who died as a result of 9/11-related illnesses.
“For New York City police officers and other first responders, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are still an unfinished chapter and will likely remain so for quite some time,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said. “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. Each one is a hero and deserves to be recognized and honored.”
In 2010, Crowley was instrumental in passing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to provide first responders and workers with health monitoring and care. He was the only member of Congress to lose a relative on 9/11 — his cousin, FDNY Battalion Chief John Moran.
“Congressman Joe Crowley has been with us from Day 1 in the fight for the Zadroga Act and its reauthorization,” Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Jake Lemonda said. “He continues to support fire officers and other first responders in sponsoring this legislation. This is certainly an honor our members have earned and rightfully deserve. The words ‘Never Forget’ have true meaning. Joe Crowley has never forgotten all those who we have lost.”
In the days before the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Jimmy Lanza’s name was added to the list of 159 FDNY members who have been felled by 9/11-related illnesses.
“The terrorist attacks occurring on Sept. 11, 2001, resulted in the greatest loss of America’s bravest firefighters occurring in a single day,” International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger said. “On that say, 343 IAFF fire fighters perished when the World Trade Center collapsed. However, the number of fallen firefighters continues to climb as more rescuers succumb to the deadly health effects that arose out of their service on that fateful day 16 years ago.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr