March 30, 2007
DEAR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS,
This week I testified at a hearing in Washington, D.C. before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet about the upcoming digital television transition. As you may know, the transition scheduled to occur in early 2009 is critical in providing first responders the tools they need to communicate effectively. As I was preparing for my testimony, I was horrified by the fact that the transfer of broadcast spectrum was recommended over 11 years ago, following the 1993 bombing. My presence at the hearing was to remind both elected officials and corporations alike that they must adhere to this long overdue deadline to prevent the further loss of life. I was relieved to hear that the distinguished members of the broadcasting industry who testified are aggressively working towards the 2009 deadline agreed upon by Congress.
The news that the City of New York has filed a motion to dismiss the pending lawsuit seeking proper treatment of remains at the Fresh Kills landfill has been upsetting to many of our families. It’s hard to believe that nearly six years later, we are still struggling for respectful treatment of our loved ones’ remains. Knowing personally how difficult this issue is, I want to thank the Hornings, and others, for their tireless dedication to our loved ones in the face of continuing adversity.
This week our 9/11 Living Memorial Feature is the Family Tribute to Captain Vincent F. Giammona, one of the 343 FDNY firefighters who made the supreme sacrifice on 9/11. All of us at VOICES are looking forward to the 9/11 Living Memorial workshop that will be held in Ridgewood, New Jersey tomorrow. We have had a very good response and will use the workshop as an opportunity to help New Jersey families begin the process of creating a tribute to page to honor their loved ones. If you are unable to attend, but interested in beginning the process, please contact our office.
As always, please feel free to contact our office if we can be of any assistance.
| VOICES PROGRAMS AND EVENTS
Join Us This Weekend in Ridgewood, NJ
In New Jersey
9/11 Living Memorial Workshop
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Time: 1:30pm to 3:30pm
Location: Ridgewood Public Library, 125 N. Maple Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ
Call or email Michelle Doherty toll free (866) 505-3911 to register.
Save the Date:
9/11 Living Memorial Workshops in Westchester and Long Island:
9/11 Living Memorial Workshop
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Time: 7pm to 9pm
Location: Larchmont Yacht Club
1 Woodbine Avenue,
In Long Island
9/11 Living Memorial Workshop
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Two sessions: 12:30pm to 3pm
and 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Location: WTC Family Center
2277 Grand Avenue,
9/11 Living Memorial Feature
Family Tribute to Vincent F. Giammona
Vincent F. Giammona, FDNY Captain, shared his joy for life with everyone around him, his family, his friends, and his comrades at Ladder 5 on Houston St., where everyone knew him as "Lieutenant Fun." (Capt. Giammona was promoted posthumously in honor of his service on 9/11) The wonderful pictures and mementoes his family have posted on his tribute page show a palpable vibrancy, and his New York Times Portrait Of Grief recounts the kind of anecdote that surely filled Vincent's life:
"At about 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 7, Lt. Vincent F. Giammona was at Coney Island, flashing his fireman's badge and, once again, pushing the limits.
"He had just spent the morning exploring the aquarium with his wife, Theresa, and their two youngest daughters — Nicolette, 4, and Daniella, 2. They had started back home to Valley Stream, when, suddenly, he turned the car around. He couldn't go to Coney Island without riding the Cyclone roller coaster.
"But the Cyclone would not open until 6 p.m., Lieutenant Giammona was told. He smiled and jabbered about his upcoming birthday (he would turn 40 in four days, on Sept. 11th). Soon, the Cyclone was creaking up into the sunshine, carrying one passenger. His daughters cheered."
Capt. Vincent F. Giammona seems like the kind of man you would hope to have at your side when duty calls. Like all the FDNY officers, he led the way for his men, and fell with ten of his brothers from Ladder 5. For those who knew him, Vincent lives on as one who lived his life to its fullest in the time he was given. He also lives on in a legacy of service and sacrifice that will never be forgotten, and is renewed whenever the alarm sounds, the helmet is strapped on, and another firefighter heads out on the job. Click here to visit the Family Tribute Page for FDNY Captain Vincent F. Giammona.
Many thanks to the Giammona family for sharing their memories with the 9/11 Living Memorial. To start building a page for your loved one, please contact Debbie Westfal at (866) 505-3911 or by email.
|VOICES FOR KIDS Spotlight
Featured Section: "Ask The Expert"
"Sleep is the balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, chief nourisher in life's feast."
--William Shakespeare, Macbeth.
Often, traumatic events can make it difficult to get a good night's rest. A lack of sleep then creates additional stress that continues a vicious cycle. Even events many years in the past can affect normal sleep patterns. This situation is the subject for a new addition to VOICES for Kids' "Ask the Expert" section, where VOICES Mental Health professionals answer your questions on a variety of topics from family to health and well being. Each section of the VOICES site--Kids, Teens, and Caregivers--has a selection of age-appropriate questions and answers. This week, you "Ask the Expert:"
"I have had trouble sleeping since 9/11, what can I do?"
Click to read answers tailored to: Kids, Teens and Caregivers. You may have to scroll through the page to find this week's question, but there is excellent advice throughout the pages. Links are available on the individual pages if you want to ask your own question. If you have any suggestions on how to improve the VOICES for Kids site, please contact us.
| Public Policy Update
House Hearing Examines First Responder Communications
This week, a House subcommittee held a hearing to monitor the progress of the planned shift from analog to digital TV broadcasting and the subsequent release of analog spectrum for use by first responders. Better communications among first responders could have saved many lives on 9/11, and VOICES has long advocated for the transfer of spectrum as quickly as possible. VOICES Founding Director Mary Fetchet testified before the committee Wednesday to push for a renewed effort by Congress to give the first responders the tools they need to effectively communicate during a terrorist attack or natural disaster. "Imagine being told that your loved ones' death could have been prevented," Ms. Fetchet testified at the House telecommunications and Internet subcommittee hearing chaired by Ed Markey (D-MA), below. "It's inexcusable that we haven't gotten our rescue people the tools to do their job," as quoted in Reuters coverage. Her full testimony is available in PDF form on the committee's website, along with streaming video of the proceedings.
Encouragingly, many of the broadcasters and merchants on the witness panel and many lawmakers on the subcommittee seem committed to the current date: February 17, 2009. After that date, U.S. television stations will be required to air only digital broadcasts, freeing up 108 megahertz of analog airwaves. Of the total, 24 MHz is being set aside for public safety and the rest will be auctioned. "We cannot violate a sacred trust to those that died on 9/11. I will do whatever I can do not to let this deadline slip," said Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), as quoted in Los Angeles Times coverage. Some lawmakers questioned whether the nation's TV viewers and retailers would be ready for the change. All new TVs are already digital-ready, but some old televisions would require a converter box to view the digital TV broadcast or their screens would go blank permanently. The government plans to subsidize the purchase of the boxes, which will cost nearly $60 dollars, with a $40 coupon. Congress has already authorized the coupon program at a cost of up to $1.5 billion. Read more about this vitally important issue in the VOICES for Change section of our website.
|REMAINS RECOVERY UPDATE
Medical Examiner, Contractors Said Remains "Certain" At Fresh Kills
In a response to a motion to dismiss their lawsuit against the City, plaintiffs led by WTC Families for Proper Burial released a series of stunning affidavits this week in support of their claim that human remains from the WTC are mixed in with debris at the Fresh Kills landfill and could have been used to fill roads and potholes at the WTC site.
The affidavits state:
"I believe it virtually certain that at least some human tissue is mixed with the dirt at the Staten Island landfill," -- Charles Hirsch, NY City's Chief Medical Examiner wrote in a Jan. 9, 2003, letter to Diane Horning, head of WTC Families for Proper Burial. Read more in a Bergen Record column by Mike Kelly.
"From my experience at Fresh Kills, I am absolutely convinced that if the City of New York unearthed, resifted and washed the debris at Fresh Kills . . . it would find hundreds of human body parts and human remains," -- Theodore Feaser, the retired director of mechanical operations for the city Sanitation Department, a 20-year veteran who supervised the recovery effort at Fresh Kills for the Sanitation Department. Read more in New York Times coverage.
"I observed the New York City Department of Sanitation taking these fines from the conveyor belts of our machines, loading it onto tractors and using it to pave roads and fill in potholes, dips and ruts" -- Eric Beck, senior supervisor for Taylor Recycling, a private contractor hired to sift through debris trucked to Fresh Kills after the trade center attacks. Before the arrival of Taylor's equipment at Fresh Kills in October 2001, the debris was sifted manually by workers using rakes and shovels. "Fines" are fine debris taken to Fresh Kills from the WTC site that likely contained some human remains. Read more in NY Daily News coverage.
The families' lawsuit would force the city to restart the sifting and remains search process of thousands of tons of debris at Fresh Kills that still includes body parts and other human remains from the landfill. It would also require the city create a formal burial place for them. Possible sites for a burial place include areas of the Fresh Kills site that have never been used as landfill, or the southern end of Governor's Island in New York Harbor. The city has contested the lawsuit vigorously in Federal court, and their lawyers issued a statement claiming "To our knowledge, there is no truth to these claims" that human remains were in the WTC fines taken to Fresh Kills, and could remain there, according to Bergen Record coverage.
Many family members believe the city has been callous and dismissive of their attempts to reopen the search. Family members and supporters are shown at left at a September, 2006 rally. "I have been told I am just unhappy about the death of my son," Diane Horning is quoted in a Newark Star-Ledger column by Bob Braun. "That's right. I will never be happy again, no matter what happens. But I'm not asking anyone to make me happy. I want my son to be buried properly." Though it is likely that the city's motion to dismiss will be denied by Judge Alvin Hellerstein, VOICES e-Newsletter will continue to keep you updated on any developments in the case. To learn more about the remains issue, please visit the Remembering and Healing section of our website, and the website for WTC Families for Proper Burial.