DECEMBER 8, 2006
DEAR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS,
VOICES will host an Interfaith Remembrance Service at St. Paul’s Chapel in NYC next Saturday, December 16th. As those who attended last year’s service can attest, the service was a wonderful, heartwarming ceremony filled with music and prayer. It was especially comforting to gather with the 9/11 community at St. Paul’s Chapel, a sacred place that served the rescue and recovery workers during the days following 9/11. This year we invite rescue workers, survivors and friends to join the 9/11 families as we remember those who perished and support one another. Following the ceremony there will be a reception at St. Paul’s. Due to construction families will not have access to the footprints at Ground Zero, but you are invited to visit the street level family viewing area and bring an ornament to place on the tree. Remember space for the St. Paul’s service is limited and reservations required.
On another note, this Monday there is a screening of “On Native Soil” at Lehman College. Following the film, I will join other panelists to discuss civic engagement. For those of you who have not seen the film, it is a compelling documentation of our quest for the creation of the 9/11 Commission, along with family and survivor stories. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are necessary. More details are listed below.
After spending two days in Washington, D.C. meeting with Congressional offices, I realize that those early efforts were just the beginning of a lifelong commitment of advocating for a safer country. I have found firsthand that despite an ongoing threat, government reform is an excruciating lengthy and difficult process. During our meetings this week a consistent message resonated – that Congress seems eager to show the American public that they are committed to legislating the 9/11 Commission recommendations during the "first 100 legislative hours." However, the new Congress must begin this process by reforming itself, a challenging task that will require a true bi-partisan effort in both the House and Senate.
Although we left Washington very optimistic, we recognize real reform will require ongoing monitoring by informed individuals. Our elected officials must hear your “voices” again and again - reinforcing our common goal to make the country safer. We will keep you informed through the VOICES website and e-newsletter. As the process evolves we may encourage you from time to time to contact your representatives. Please let us know if you are interested in playing a more active role.
In closing, I want to express my deep gratitude to all the clergy and staff at St. Paul’s Chapel who have generously offered to provide an opportunity for us to gather together during the holiday season. We look forward to seeing all of you who are able to attend Saturday’s Interfaith service.
Our best wishes to you and your family,
9/11 Remembrance Service at St. Paul's, December 16th
VOICES is very excited for this year's Service of Remembrance, which will once again feature a candle-lighting service, interfaith prayers, and wonderful music. We hope all of you will join us again this year as we extend an invitation to the entire 9/11 community: family members, survivors, and rescue and recovery workers.
A reception will follow the service. After the reception, family members will have the opportunity to process to the Ground Zero viewing area for a brief prayer. Unfortunately, because of construction, the WTC site itself is closed to visitors. Please bring an ornament to decorate the WTC holiday tree if you wish.
Read more about the service on VOICES Website.
Please RSVP by
email to reserve your place.
Share Your Holiday Experiences with VOICES
VOICES received some great responses from our request for family members to share their experiences over the holiday season. Many thanks to Juana Bacchus, wife of Rudy Bacchus who shared some of her ways of coping with special days without one of the people who made them so special. She writes:
"For the first two years after Sept. 11th, I had no desire to be celebrating anything, but thank God for my family & godly friends, they didn't accept my 'No's', so they brought their celebration & home cooking to our home. It made me feel good in spite of knowing that my
husband Rudy who was the core of our family unit was
not there to do what he did best at these type of
gatherings: carved the turkey, make fun of my cooking
give solid & helpful advice to all as we listen to his
rumbling voice..." Read more.
If you would like to share your experiences and strategies with other readers of VOICES e-Newsletter, Please respond to: email@example.com
Send Holiday Messages to Troops Overseas
Messages for the soldiers in Joe Coppo Jr.'s unit: C Troop, 40 Brigade, 1st Cavalry (Airborne) continue to arrive in VOICES office. We continue to collect the messages and hope many more of our newsletter readers will take this opportunity to say thanks and happy holidays to these brave young people far from home. You can send a message by email that we will transcribe, or send a handwritten note or card to VOICES at 93 Cherry St., New Canaan, CT 06840 that we will forward to C Troop on your behalf.
|9/11 Living Memorial Spotlight
Family Tribute to Laura Ragonese-Snik
This week we are proud to spotlight a Family Tribute recently added to the VOICES website. The very personal and touching page created by the family of Laura Ragonese-Snik is a truly moving example of the strong emotional ties in so many families who lost loved ones on 9/11. The Ragonese family has shared a truly vivid portrait of their dynamic, charming and beloved wife, sister and friend. Laura is on the right of the picture, flashing the beaming smile her friends and family remember so well. Laura was especially close with her brother, who is only 11 months older, and they shared 40 wonderful years filled with dancing, singing and love. Michael Ragonese writes: "I am angered by the event/people that took you from me (and from our family),
but I know you did not live your life in anger. You focused on the good in
everyone and never judged people by their mistakes. You loved with no condition
and that, my dear sister, is the true lesson and the most precious gift you have
left us all with." Click to visit Laura's page.
Laura was also very close with her sister-in-law, Maria Ragonese (on the left in the picture above), who writes: "We hope when you read the tributes we wrote for her, you will know that Laura was not just “a name” or “a number”, she was a real person who was loved by everyone who knew her. She mattered in this world and in the lives of others." The tributes shared by those who loved Laura are truly moving, and the page also features pictures of Laura and her family and friends. We believe Maria Ragonese's statement is a testament to the value of the Family Tributes project. We need your help to continue growing this archive of moving, permanent tributes to the heroes of 9/11. Contact Debbie Westfal at (203) 966-3911 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to begin building a page for your loved one today.
|WTC Site Update
Preliminary Demolition of Deutsche Bank Building Begins
Preparatory work for demolition work began today at the Deutsche Bank building, which has stood shrouded in black since 9/11 as a concrete testament to slow progress at the WTC site. In recent years the building, at 130 Liberty St. along the WTC site's southern edge, has been a potent symbol for 9/11 family members' concerns that all human remains around the WTC still have not been found. However, rebuilding officials have declared the building free of remains and will proceed with a laborious top-down demolition in January.
Today, workers began dismantling the building's facade on the top floor, according to an update from Lower
Manhattan Construction Command Center (click here to read update). "We obviously want to see it taken down and taken down safely," Julie Menin, who chairs downtown Manhattan's Community Board 1, said in Associated Press coverage. Menin still has concerns about how the building will be taken down without spewing toxic dust into the neighborhood, adding "We will continue to be vigilant about this."
EPA Announces New Testing and Clean-Up for Lower Manhattan
The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that it will launch its final Sept. 11 contamination cleanup program next month. The EPA instituted similar testing and cleaning programs in 2002 and 2003 (see picture) that critics say were insufficient.
The new cleanup plan will test interior dust in office and apartment buildings for four contaminants that spread across Lower Manhattan after the destruction of the Twin Towers. The plan will test indoor spaces below Canal Street and west of Allen and Pike streets and is expected to cost $7 million. The testing program's two-month registration period will begin in January.
But the new effort has already come under fire from critics for its modest scope and estimated cost as well as the fact that people must sign up for testing and cleaning. "The EPA is acting as if the last four years never happened," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in a statement. "We know that people are sick, and yet the Agency is repeating the same mistakes by limiting the plan to a small geographic area, not testing for all contaminants known to be present in WTC dust, not treating buildings as a whole to reduce recontamination, and by refusing to take responsibility for commercial buildings. The fact that they’re only spending $7 million shows that EPA doesn’t intend to do too much."
The four contaminants that the EPA is searching for are asbestos, man-made fibers like fiberglass, lead, and polycyclic armoatic hydrocarbons, but many other harmful substances are present in WTC dust, according to analysis referenced on an American Institute of Conservation web page. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is conducting a study of EPA’s World Trade Center indoor testing and cleanup program, and will release a draft report in May, 2007. EPA officials were quick to defend their record: "The vast majority of occupied residential and commercial spaces in lower Manhattan have been repeatedly cleaned, and we believe the potential for exposure related to dust that may remain from the collapse of the World Trade Center building is low," said EPA official Dr. George Gray, as quoted in NY Daily News Coverage.
DHS to Investigate $1 Billion WTC Health Fund
The City of New York has spent $50 million to contest lawsuits filed by Ground Zero workers, in possible violation of the guidelines for a special federal fund. The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General is investigating whether the City's actions defy guidelines for the WTC Captive Insurance Company, which manages the $1 billion Congress allocated to pay claims against the city and its contractors from the WTC cleanup. Managers at the fund have argued that they "have a duty" to defend against the lawsuits, which would presumably require legal services. According to New York Post reporting, the WTC Captive Insurance Company has spent more than $50 million on overhead, consultants and fees as of Sept. 30, including $32.9 million on law firms. The investigation was launched at the request of Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a longstanding advocate for the needs of WTC responders and rescue workers.
News In Brief
Dec. 7 - At New Trade Center, Seeking Lively (but Secure) Streets: Plans for the new trade center are typically rendered from a far-off perspective. But the experience of the place will succeed or fail on a much more down-to-earth and pedestrian level: in its streets, sidewalks, plazas and parks (New York Times)
Dec. 5 - Incoming Senate chair pledges care for WTC workers: The government should provide health care for sick 9/11 workers, the incoming head of the Senate's environment committee said Tuesday, vigorously endorsing presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton's plan for a long-term ground zero care program (Associated Press)
|EVENTS AND INFORMATION FOR 9/11 COMMUNITY
Monday, December 11, 2006
Screening of "On Native Soil" and panel discussion focused on civic engagement
hosted in partnership with Court TV, Cablevision and Lehman College
Time: Reception 11:30 am to 12:30 pm,
Screening begins at 12:30 pm
Lehman College, CUNY,
250 Bedford Park Blvd, West
Moderated by: Miquel Perez.
Featured speaker: N.Y. State Senator Jeffrey Klein.
Panelists: Mary Fetchet, Founding Director of Voices of September 11th,
noted Broadcast and print journalists to be announced.
The event is free of charge, reservations are necessary, email email@example.com
Monday, December 11, 2006
Jérôme Lohez September 11th Scholarship Foundation Benefit
Time: Event Starts at 6:00 pm
Location: The French Consulate of New York City, 934 Fifth Avenue - (between 74th and 75th Street)
The 2006 Jérôme Lohez Scholarship Award Presentation and Fundraiser featuring SOSPIRI performed by Buglisi Dance Theatre, Choreography: Artistic Director Jacqulyn Buglisi. Food provided by Payard. Read event flyer.
Monday, December 11, 2006
WTC Holiday Tree Lighting
Time: 6 pm
Location: WTC Site
Join Fr. Brian Jordan and 9/11 Families for this annual tradition to remember our loved ones. For more information please contact Ada Rehnberg-Campos in the Mayor's Office at 212-788-7410.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Advisory Committee Teleconference Meeting
Time: 9:00 am to 11:00 am
The agenda will include discussion of the NCST Advisory Committee's Annual Report to Congress and the status of the investigation of World Trade Center 7. This is an open meeting of the NCST Advisory Committee and the public may listen to a live audio webcast via a link on the NIST WTC web site.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Peter K. Ortale Scholarship Fund/William Penn Charter School Benefit Event
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA.
RSVP or make a donation online (click here) . Master of Ceremonies, Phil Martelli, Head Coach, Men’s Basketball, St. Joseph’s University. Live Auction, Cocktails and Hors d’ouevres, Parking will be provided.
Enter from Race Street, between 5th& 6th Streets. Visit www.pkofund.org for more information, pictures and details of auction items.
Friday, December 15-Saturday, December 23, 2006
Menorah Lighting with Rabbi Potasnik
Location: WTC Site
Contact: Rabbi Potasnik (212) 983-3521
"Light Up Wethersfield, CT" to Benefit Richard M. Keane Foundation
The Richard M. Keane Foundation is again sponsoring a Holiday Tradition to "Light up Wethersfield, CT" with Luminary on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24th! Luminaria are an old tradition for Christmas Eve and include a special, long burning candle in a white bag partially filled with sand. The Luminaria are placed along sidewalks to "Light the way for Christmas". Kits are $1.25 each. Neighbors are encouraged to make their neighborhood the brightest in town! Call 257-3775 or go directly to Wethersfield Travel, 225 Main Street in Wethersfield to pick up your Luminaria kits during regular business hours. For large neighborhood orders please call ahead so that they can be ready for you when you arrive! (Kits will be available on Dec. 23 and 24th at 126 Broad Street as well.) Call 563-3387 for more information. All proceeds benefit the Richard M. Keane Foundation's 9/11 Memorial Sports Center.
RESOURCE GUIDE FOR 9/11 HEALTH SUPPORT
World Trade Center Health Registry Resource Guide (read PDF)
|9/11 REFORMS IN THE NEWS
Dec. 5 - DHS Plan for 'Virtual' Border Fence Still Has Gaps: A Bush administration plan to build a "virtual" fence along the Mexico border will cost $7.6 billion and be completed by 2011, but the government lacks clear benchmarks for success, according to a report to Congress by the Department of Homeland Security (Washington Post)
Dec. 4 - F.B.I. Overhaul of Computers Is Facing a Gap of $57 Million: The latest effort to overhaul the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s antiquated computer system, still in its early stages, is already coming up short by $57 million, causing consternation in Congress (New York Times)
Dec. 3 - National Intelligence Director Says He'll Stay On: Negroponte, the First to Hold Post, Plans to Remain Until End of Bush's Term (Washington Post)
Nov. 30 - Democrats Reject Key 9/11 Panel Suggestion: Neither Party Has an Appetite for Overhauling Congressional Oversight of Intelligence (Washington Post)