January 30, 2009
Dear Families and Friends,
My husband Frank and I were honored to attend the Inauguration in Washington, DC. We were among the nearly 2 million people who braved the cold and walked for miles to witness the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, take the oath of office.
It was inspiring to see the transition of power from one administration to another - as four former Presidents and the Congressional delegation came together in a bi-partisan spirit of support. Citizens from all political backgrounds and every culture seemed to take enormous pride in this historic moment and there was a true sense of camaraderie and a unified purpose.
Surrounded by a renewed hope for the future, it was a bittersweet moment as I paused to reflect about the advocacy efforts of so many 9/11 families in Washington over the past 7 years. We had an opportunity to share our story with two women – one from Illinois who spoke with pride about her Senator, and her sister-in-law from California, an American citizen from Iran who talked passionately about her offer to provide translation services immediately after the attacks. Our conversation demonstrated that regardless of our political, cultural or religious backgrounds ordinary citizens have an opportunity to promote change in our homes, communities and around the world.
As President Obama so eloquently stated in his inaugural address, “And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also schedule an individual Living Memorial appointment at our Connecticut office.
VOICES, New Canaan
Date: Friday, February 6th
Time: 10:00am to 3:00pm by Appointment
Location: Voices of September 11th, 161 Cherry Street, Second Floor, New Canaan, CT
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
Bayside, New York
Date: Tuesday, February 24th
Time: 1:00pm to 5:00pm by Appointment
Location: Bay Terrace Public Library,
18-36 Bell Blvd.,
Bayside, NY 11360
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, February 3rd : Firefighter Mothers Group 10:00am to 11:00am
Tuesday, February 3rd : Parents Tuesday PM Group 3:45pm to 5:00pm
Tuesday, February 3rd : Parenting Group 9:00pm to 10:00pm
In the News
WE Count! 9/11 Health Survey
In an effort to “uncover the true scope of the 9/11 health crisis,” Beyond Ground Zero Network (BGZ) is partnering with 9/11 Environmental Action (EA) to conduct a community health survey. The organizations will perform extensive outreach throughout Lower Manhattan over the next few months to create a broad database of 9/11 health symptoms and their effects. They are asking everyone with health problems related to 9/11 to complete their survey, available at Survey Monkey. For more information, visit the Beyond Ground Zero Network.
Transition to Digital TV Problematic
Concerned because more than 6.5 million households may not be ready to switch to digital TV on February 17th, Congress considered delaying the transition until June. On Monday night, the Senate voted to extend the deadline, but on Wednesday the House was unable to amass the two-thirds majority required for a fast-track procedural vote. VOICES has been working with the DTV Coalition to educate the public on the importance of this issue. The transition is needed in order to free airwaves that are essential to first responder communications in an emergency such as 9/11. Analysts have raised a number of concerns regarding the public’s readiness for the switch, but there are also problems associated with postponing. Whether or not the deadline is delayed, VOICES will continue to advocate for a smooth transition. Any problems need to be addressed and resolved as quickly as possible. To learn more visit MSNBC and the NY Times.
Guantanamo to Close
In one of his first acts as President, President Barack Obama signed executive orders that aim to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp within a year, end the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret interrogation program, and review the manner in which detainees will be held and questioned. His orders serve to end the Bush administration’s military commissions system for prosecuting terrorist suspects. President Obama has acknowledged closing Guantanamo will be a complex and challenging undertaking. Read the Executive Orders directly at the White House web page. The New York Times has consolidated its Guantanamo coverage on one page, including a history of the issue. 9/11 family members have differing opinions on the closing of Guantanamo. Read a statement by September 11th Advocates. Read the Newsday article on the families of 9/11 firefighters.
Hillary Clinton Sworn In as Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton was sworn in as our nation’s 67th Secretary of State. To read the testimony she gave during her nomination hearings, visit the US Department of State. There, you can also find her welcoming remarks to the Department. Prior to her swearing in, then New York Senator Clinton bade farewell to her colleagues in Congress. During her speech, she described in vivid detail and with obvious emotion her experiences in the aftermath of 9/11, visiting Ground Zero and working to provide assistance to all those devastated by the attacks. She noted her gratitude to many individuals in government and society, with a special nod to the 9/11 community, saying: “I've developed close and lasting relationships with many of the victims and the families of the victims of 9/11, and I applaud and thank them for their courage and their fortitude in not only fighting for the health benefits that were so desperately needed, but for the creation of the 9/11 Commission, for trying to do better on threat assessments, more resources for first responders, committed, despite their grief, to smarter policies to prevent future attacks on our nation. To read Clinton’s farewell speech to the Senate in its entirety. A video is also available at C-Span.
New Social Media Campaign Provides Tools for Emergencies
In an effort to prepare the nation for emergencies, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Ready Campaign, together with the Advertising Council, is launching a social media initiative. Individuals, families, businesses and communities now have access to interactive social media tools designed to help them take action and prepare for various emergency scenarios. Tools include an instructional video, local emergency contact information, checklists and guidelines. Updates on emergency situations will also be available. For access to these materials, go to www.ready.gov. It’s also possible to obtain materials by calling 1-800-BE-READY.
Napolitano Takes Action
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano has issued a number of directives since assuming her position, regarding cybersecurity, northern border strategy, critical infrastructure protection, risk analysis, state and local intelligence sharing, transportation security, and state, local and tribal integration. To learn more, visit the Domestic Preparedness and Homeland Security websites.
Obama Strikes New Tone, Reaches Out to Muslims on Arab TV
In his first televised interview from the White House, President Barack Obama appealed to the Muslim world on a major Middle Eastern television station, emphasizing his desire to hear their concerns and forge a dialogue. He stressed the importance of US diplomats listening rather than dictating. In addition, he said that “Israel’s security is paramount…but I also believe that there are Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace.” Read more at the NY Times.
A Portion of 9/11 Commission Records Now Open to Public
The 9/11 Commission was established to investigate the attacks that occurred on September 11th 2001 and recommend prevention strategies. When they issued their report, the records they accumulated were transferred to the National Archives. The Commission hoped the records would be released to the fullest extent possible in January 2009. Toward that end, the National Archives has opened 35% of the records to the public this month. To learn more, including how to access available items, visit the National Archives at: http://www.archives.gov/legislative/research/9-11/.
Revamped White House Web Site
The White House has redesigned its web site and there are many pages that might be of interest to our readers. These include President Barack Obama’s strategies for protecting the nation against 21st century threats. To learn more, click on Homeland Security Agenda.
9/11 Victims' Compensation Fund Chief Kenneth Feinberg Writes Book
The former head of the US government's Victims' Compensation Fund has written a book chronicling the process he and his department developed to compensate 9/11 victims. Kenneth Feinberg’s book, “What is Life Worth,” is a detailed examination of the difficulties involved in calculating compensation amounts. In a summary of its television interview with Feinberg, ABC News relates his story as well as those of several victims. Read more at ABC News.
Second Death Linked to 9/11 Dust
For only the second time since 9/11, the New York City (NYC) Medical Examiner has ruled a subsequent death was linked to the inhalation of dust at the site. On September 11th, 2001, Leon Hayward, an investigator for NYC’s Department of Consumer Affairs, helped rescue handicapped co-workers. He died seven years later, having suffered with severe breathing and memory issues, as well as seizures and other difficulties. Last week, the Medical Examiner said Hayward died from cancer caused by toxic dust at the site. Read more at the NY Daily News.