December 12 , 2008

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December 12, 2008


Dear Families and Friends,


This week an announcment was made that two significant pieces of history – the construction ramp at Ground Zero and the Survivors’ Stairway will be moved, demonstrating that progress is being made in the building of the National September 11 Memorial Museum.  The 460 foot ramp at Ground Zero is of historical significance to the 9/11 community, especially rescue workers, family members and survivors who descended the ramp during the recovery efforts and to pay tribute to those who died during commemorative events and other ceremonies.  The ramp will be dismantled over the next month and a portion of the artifact will become part of the Memorial Museum’s permanent collection.  In addition, the Vesey Street “Survivors’ Stairway” that was an exit route on September 11th was moved into what will be its permanent location within the Memorial Museum.  We know this progress provides hope and encouragement to our membership.  


Over the last several weeks a wide range of world events have emerged that may be of interest to the 9/11 community, including the announcement of President-elect Obama’s National Security team, the terrorist attacks at Mumbai, the release of the WMD Commission Report and the trial proceedings in Guantanamo Bay.   In an effort to keep you informed we are including announcements as well as articles on these topics.  We hope you recognize that there may be a wide range of responses in following these current events.  For some, it may be emotionally challenging as the holidays approach. 


Please keep in mind we are here if you need our support.  As always, we extend our very best wishes to you and your family during this holiday season. 


Warm Regards,

Mary and the Voices Staff



VOICES Programs and events


9/11 Living Memorial Workshop Schedule

VOICES is putting together its workshop schedule for 2009. If you would like us to come to your neighborhood, please contact us so we can consider including it in our schedule for the coming year. For more information, or to register for the workshops below, contact Michelle Doherty at VOICES of September 11th, (203) 966-3911 or by e-mail to mdoherty@voicesofsept11.org. You can also schedule an individual Living Memorial appointment at our Connecticut office.


New Brunswick, New Jersey

Date: Tuesday, January 27th

Time: 11:00am to 5:00pm

Location: DEVCO, 120 Albany Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey


KBW, New York
Date: Thursday, January 29th for KBW families
Time: 10:00am to 5:00pm by Appointment
Location: Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, 787 7th Avenue, Fourth Floor, New York, NY


KBW, New York
Date: Thursday, February 12th for KBW families
Time: 10:00am to 5:00pm by Appointment
Location: Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, 787 7th Avenue, Fourth Floor, New York, NY


Manhasset, New York
Date: Tuesday, February 17th
Time: 11:00am to 5:00pm by Appointment
Location: Manhasset Public Library, 30 Onderdonk Avenue, Manhasset, NY 11030


Teleconference Schedule:

Voices of September 11th offers teleconference groups that are facilitated by our mental health professionals. The teleconference groups provide an opportunity for those impacted by 9/11 to talk with others that share their same experience. Please contact our office at (203) 966-3911 if you are interested in participating.


Tuesday, December 16: Parents Teleconference Group 3:45pm to 5:00pm


In the News


New Location for Christmas Tree Honoring 9/11 Victims

A Christmas tree honoring 9/11 victims will be placed on the corner of Liberty Street and Greenwich Street in New York City, next to the bronze Firefighter’s Memorial and near the World Trade Center site. Family members feared a tree might not be possible this year, since the new Family Room cannot accommodate one. Thanks to the efforts of Rosemary Cain and Rose Foti of WTC Families for Proper Burial, as well as the local firehouse, the tree will be erected and decorated on Sunday, December 14. Ornaments used in previous years will decorate the tree again this year.


Signature Ramp Being Removed from WTC Site
The 460-foot ramp that carried thousands of 9/11 family members, as well as numerous construction crews, from the streets of downtown New York to bedrock at Ground Zero, is being dismantled in order to facilitate the construction of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. A portion of the ramp, which for many symbolized the spirit of unity that followed the tragedy, will be moved to the Museum. To see a press release with more detail, visit the Port Authority website.


9/11 Family Members Attend Controversial Pre-Trial Hearing on Five Guantanamo Detainees

Pre-trial military hearings began at Guantanamo this week in the proceedings against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo detainees charged with coordinating the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Nine family members of 9/11 victims were present in the courtroom. They saw the the five detainees, who announced that they would make "confessions", essentially pleading guilty, but then withdrew the plea. The New York Times reports that the offer to confess "appeared to be intended to undercut the government's plan for a high-profile trial and draw international attention to what some of the five men have said was a desire for martyrdom". When the military judge. Col. Stephen R. Henley, said there were legal questions about how military commissions deal with cases involving the death penalty, some of the accused men said they might change their minds if they could not be assured they would be executed. Read the full New York Times story here.


The news about the possible guilty plea sparked controversy among families of 9/11 victims about the future of the trial - now at a pivotal moment - and of Guantanamo itself. While President-elect Obama has said he will close the the detention camp, some family members would like the tribunal to finish its work. VOICES Founding Director Mary Fetchet was quoted in New York's Newsday newspaper as saying that the proceedings have generated a complex array of feelings among victims' families, with many different ideas about how the trial process should work and what sentences would bring relief in the case of guilty verdicts. Read more about the families' attendance at the trial here.


Cybersecurity a Major National Security Problem, says Report

The Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency has released its final report, stating that cybersecurity is one of the major national security problems facing the United States and recommending a comprehensive national security strategy that embraces both the domestic and international aspects of cybersecurity. Read the full report here.


Report says Economic Crisis is Impacting Disaster Readiness

The United States is still underprepared for a major disaster such as a biological attack, and the current economic crisis could make it worse, according to a new report issue by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The joint report found that 11 states and Washington DC had cut their public health budgets last year and calls for large increases in federal funding for public health, including state health departments. Read the full report here.


Trials for Sick Ground Zero Workers Will Begin in 2010

Lawsuits against the city of New York by workers who allege that they became ill because of the city's failure to offer them breathing masks during the time they worked at ground zero will begin 2010. Nearly 10,000 firefighters, police officers, construction workers and other recovery personnel have sued New York City and its contractors. Now, lawyers representing 50 to 60 of those with the most severe health problems have announced they will proceed with trials, which are set to begin in 2010. Read the story in the New York Times.


St. Nicholas Church Still Hoping to Rebuild

After the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Lower Manhattan was destroyed on 9/11, its members began celebrating mass at a parish in nearby Brooklyn. But on St. Nicholas Day every year, worshippers return to the grounds where their beloved church once stood to celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas—the patron saint of children and travelers, often identified as Santa Claus.  Last Saturday December 6, about 150 parishioners came together under a heated white tent, praying for peace, health and harmony, and hoping that one day they will be able to stand within the walls of their new church. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey only recently reached a tentative agreement with the church in July to help it rebuild, but the agreement has yet to be finalized. Read the Daily News story.


9/11 Hero Dies After Accidental Fall

Thomas Orlando, of Hicksville, New York, a firefighter at Engine 65 in Manhattan and a hero who raced to others rescue in the North Tower of the World Trade Center died last Thursday after a fall incurred while helping a friend. New York's Newsday reports that Mr. Orlando is remembered as a great leader, a wonderful father, and a friend who brought comfort and mirth to those around him. Often referred to as the “go-to guy” in his firehouse, Mr. Orlando was actively involved in his community, helping to organize neighborhood events and family outings. Mr. Orlando is survived by his wife Nancy and their two children, Meghan and Thomas, as well as his parents and siblings. An education fund has been established for the children through the Fire Department of the City of New York. To contribute, make checks payable to FF. Thomas Orlando Children’s Education Fund and mail to the FDNY Foundation at 9 Metrotech Center, Room 5E-10, Brooklyn, NY 11201.


Transitioning to Digital TV

VOICES wants to remind its readers once again that on February 17, 2009, the United States will transition to digital television. This advance is among the vital recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, and will improve government communications during an emergency. Well-functioning communications systems are essential to our safety during an emergency and have become a focus of VOICES’ advocacy efforts.  To find out more, visit the DTV website.