Always remember

Tuesday marked the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and in Queens — as across the country — we marked the tragedy with somber tributes to remember those who lost their lives.

Throughout the borough, politicians, officials and residents came together to honor those who died as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

In Flushing, City Councilman Paul Vallone joined the crowd at St. Mel’s Catholic Academy for a memorial ceremony.

In Maspeth, a crowd of nearly 200 people gathered in Maspeth Memorial Park to remember the thousands of lives that were lost 17 years ago.

For the third year in a row, thousands of people rode motorcycles from the Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park to the World Trade Center site to honor the first responders who lost their lives, including 18-year-old Richard Allen Pearlman — a youth member of the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps who sacrificed his life helping others on the day of the attack.

There were several more events held across Queens in the days leading up to the anniversary of the attack — far too many to list here. But the underlying message of all of these events is to never forget those who perished on Sept. 11; to always remember the sacrifice that so many made and the pain that we’ve all had to endure in the aftermath of the attack.

Today, the death toll from the attack on the World Trade Center continues to climb. On Sept. 11, 2001, 2,996 people were killed during the attacks, including the 19 plane hijackers. But first responders and others near the scene 17 years ago remain at risk.

Deaths from the aftermath of the attack are nearing the number of fatalities that occurred on that day. According to data from the World Trade Center Health Program, of those receiving care for Sept. 11 after-effects, nearly 1800 are now deceased. And that number will continue to climb.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates some 400,000 first responders, residents, workers and others were exposed to caustic and toxic dust from the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11. The symptoms from inhaling such toxins may not show up for years. Seventeen years later, lives are still being lost as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Tuesday’s anniversary gave the country a chance to set aside politics for a day and remember what’s important. We need to ensure that the memory of that fateful day is never forgotten by coming together and realizing what we’re truly fighting for: peace and unity.

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