January 12, 2007
DEAR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS,
This past Tuesday, I had the honor of testifying in Washington, D.C. before the Senate Homeland Security Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Chairman, Senator Joe Lieberman and Ranking Member, Senator Susan Collins. As you may remember, Senators Lieberman and Collins were instrumental in negotiating the passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. I was joined on the panel by VOICES Family Advisory Member, Carol Ashley and 9/11 family member Carie LeMack. We spoke individually on a wide range of topics ranging from interoperability and preparedness, to screening of cargo on passenger planes and weapons of mass destruction.
Testifying was a very emotional experience, as I reflected on the personal loss I suffered due to the death of my son, but also the 2,748 other innocent citizens that perished on 9/11 at the hands of terrorists. Considering that over 5 years has passed, it’s both shocking and frustrating that our government and federal agencies have moved so slowly. It was reassuring that Vice-Chairman Lee Hamilton and several other 9/11 Commissioners also testified and continue to support full implement of the 9/11 Commission recommendations.
Following the testimony we watched from the gallery as members of the House of Representatives debated and voted on legislation - Implementing the 9/11 Commissions Act. It was encouraging to see that the House leadership of the 110th Congress has refocused on implementation of the 9/11 Commission reforms. In the coming weeks the Senate will begin drafting it’s version of the bill. I am hopeful that they will also be steadfast in their commitment to legislating necessary reforms to make the country safer. Although we’ve made some progress, real reform will require a bi-partisan effort, the support of the administration and the continued persistence of many.
In closing, I want to inform you that VOICES will be beginning workshops this month for the 9/11 Living Memorial project. Our first workshop will be held in New Canaan, CT on Wednesday, January 31st from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. We encourage you to attend, and learn more about creating a page in memory of your loved one or submitting a story or artwork for the project. Details about the event are included below in the newsletter.
Our best wishes to you and your families,
Join VOICES For a 9/11 Living Memorial Workshop
Wednesday, January 31, 2006
9/11 Living Memorial Workshop and Lunch
Time: 12 to 2 pm
Location: New Canaan Library/ Adrian Lamb Room,
151 Main St.,
New Canaan, CT
RSVP By January 24th: Michelle @ 866-505-3911 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Fetchet and Monica Iken will give a brief presentation on the 9/11 Living Memorial (www.911livingmemorial.org) which will be followed by round table discussions led by our mental health professionals. You will then have the opportunity to begin creating a Living Memorial Page with Debbie Westfal, family liaison for the 9/11 Living Memorial.
Click here for an invitation and directions to the New Canaan Library.
|9/11 Living Memorial Spotlight
9/11 Memorial in Donadea, Ireland
This week we are proud to spotlight a wonderful memorial built in Ireland in memory of those lost on 9/11, especially Firefighter Sean Tallon and his 342 FDNY comrades who sacrificed their own lives on 9/11 so that others might live. The memorial is located in Donadea Forest Park, 20 miles from Dublin. Donadea is the hometown of Sean Tallon's father, and his relatives and friends still live in the area.
The Donadea Memorial is a scaled replica of the Twin Towers carved in local limestone and engraved with the names of all the men and women of the FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority who died in the Twin Towers. The Memorial is set in a specially prepared copse of 343 native Oak saplings. Over time, the saplings will grow tall as a testament to the power of memory and rebirth and will flourish for well over 100 years. The Memorial was formally dedicated in September, 2003 with a large delegation of 9/11 first responders in attendance. The Memorial is a moving commemoration of loss that also celebrates the service of Irish-Americans in the FDNY and the longstanding ties between the two nations. Click here to visit the 9/11 Living Memorial page on the Donadea 9/11 Memorial.
|9/11 REFORMS UPDATE
Mary Fetchet and Other 9/11 Family Members Testify Before Senate
VOICES Founding Director Mary Fetchet joined other 9/11 family members this week to testify at a U.S. Senate committee hearing on the status of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. The hearing, held Tuesday morning by the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) and its chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman (I(D)-CT), was meant to refocus Congress’ attention on the 9/11 Commission Recommendations that have yet to be addressed. Ms. Fetchet’s testimony urged quick Congressional action on a variety of unfulfilled recommendations including interoperable communications, information sharing, risk-based funding, and Congressional reform. VOICES family advisory board member Carol Ashley and 9/11 family member Carie Lemack also added testimony on the recommendations. The three were joined by other family members Frank Fetchet, Abe Scott and Rosemary Dillard at a press conference in support of new action on the Recommendations. In the picture above, Mary Fetchet addresses the press as Rev. Bill Minson, Frank Fetchet and Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) look on.
All three advocates played a leading role in creating the 9/11 Commission, and were lauded by Sen. Lieberman as “the heroes of this fight… each one lost a loved one on September 11 th and took that terrible loss and grief and turned it into advocacy for prevention and protection.” They brought the human face of terrorist attacks to the hearing and reminded the Senators that their decisions on reform have real world consequences. Ms. Fetchet said in her testimony: “I believe we must remain vigilant and steadfast in our commitment to ensure the government is doing everything within its power to make our country safer. Voices of September 11th welcomes the opportunity to work with your committee and other like-minded individuals, who feel as I do that no mother, father, wife, child or sibling should suffer the loss we have.”
The hearing also featured 9/11 Commissioners Lee Hamilton, Slade Gorton and Tim Roemer, as well as first responders and Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York. The hearing was televised on CSPAN, and streaming video as well as transcripts of testimony are available on the Senate HSGAC website. If you are viewing the streaming video and would like to skip directly to the beginning of the 9/11 family members’ testimony, skip 3 hours and 34 minutes into the video.
House Passes Reforms Based on 9/11 Commission Recommendations
Bill Faces Tough Opposition in White House
As 9/11 family members watched from the gallery Tuesday, the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, passed sweeping legislation to implement recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that have languished in Congress. The bill, named H.R. 1 (to read the full text of the bill, visit THOMAS and search for "H.R. 1" as a bill number), lays out an ambitious inspection program for cargo containers shipped into the United States and sets a goal of 100% screening for all cargo loaded onto passenger planes by 2010. Other sections of the bill address controversial topics such as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, stopping nuclear proliferation, and foreign relations. “Our first and highest responsibility as members of this Congress is to protect the American people, defend our homeland and strengthen national security,” Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) House majority leader is quoted in New York Times Coverage.
H.R. 1 was passed decisively as part of the “First 100 Legislative Hours” agenda of the new Democratic-controlled Congress. 68 Republicans joined a united 231 Democrats in supporting the measure. Click to see a breakdown of the votes by party. During meetings with Senate staffers this week, VOICES was informed that the Homeland Security Governmental Affairs Committee and Senate leadership is drafting a Senate bill in the coming weeks. After the Senate passes its bill, the next step is a House-Senate conference that will produce a final bill for submission to President Bush. The White House issued an almost section-by-section criticism of H.R. 1 in response to the Houses' action. We will continue to monitor the progress of the legislation and keep our membership informed as new information is available.
|GROUND ZERO UPDATE
More Remains Found in WTC Area, New DNA I.D. Techniques Used
39 pieces of human remains were recovered Thursday by forensic anthropologists sifting through debris from the WTC. These latest findings are from fill that made up a “haul road” on the site’s southern edge. The recovery was the largest since Oct. 19, when utility workers found about 80 bones in a long-abandoned manhole. Read more in Associated Press and Newsday coverage. That find compelled the City to create a new recovery plan to search areas on the site’s periphery. Many 9/11 family members continue to criticize the plan and have called for JPAC, an Army unit that searches for the remains of missing U.S. soldiers around the world, to take over the operation. They will press their case at a special Community Board 1 meeting this week and have strongly encouraged all interested family members and first responders to attend.
According to the City, none of the remains recovered in the new plan have been identified, although many are well preserved and will likely yield usable DNA for analysis. The firm that conducts the actual DNA analysis announced this week that new extraction techniques used on the bone fragments that has yielded usable samples. "The samples are working beautifully" with the new method… "we will have good success," Ed Huffine, vice president at Bode Technology Group in Lorton, VA is quoted in Associated Press coverage. No timetable has been announced for notification of the victim’s families following a positive identification. This week, family members toured the Brooklyn facility where the WTC debris is being inspected for possible remains. Police crime scene investigators searching for remains are shown in the photo above.
|EVENTS AND INFORMATION FOR 9/11 COMMUNITY
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Time: 11:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Location: September Space Midtown Manhattan
520 8th Avenue, 11th Floor (between 36th and 37th streets), New York, NY
Peer discussions with licensed facilitators, relax and rejuvenate body work, creative arts for children, lunch and refreshments at September Space.
For more information or to RSVP for programs, please email email@example.com or call Heather Anderson at 646-289-3098. Visit Website
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Special Executive Session of Community Board # 1 on Recovery and JPAC
Time: 5-6 pm (regular Board meeting to follow)
Location: Southbridge Towers, 90 Beekman Street, New York, NY (off Pearl Street, across from South St. Seaport area)
A special Executive Session of CB #1 will be held prior to the regular monthly meeting to discuss & vote on whether to call on JPAC to assist NYC at GZ in searching for human remains.
Please attend: 9/11 families, uniformed service members & supporters: Your attendance & support is greatly needed at this final meeting which will discuss Human Remains and the JPAC at GZ.