December 16, 2019
NEW YORK—Today, Mayor de Blasio presented the Bronze Medallion, New York City’s highest civic honor, to individuals whose tireless advocacy, inspiration, and leadership helped pass the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.
The Victim Compensation Fund Act guarantees New Yorkers and first responders from around the country affected by 9/11 will receive the care and resources they need. Honorees include distinguished representatives from the 9/11 survivor and first-responder advocate community, uniformed agencies and the labor community, and the lead bill sponsors from the New York congressional delegation in the 116th Congress.
“In the aftermath of 9/11, New Yorkers put their lives on the line for the safety of our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio “I am proud to honor those who fought for our first responders with the Bronze Medallion. Their advocacy in securing the permanence of the Victim Compensation Fund will be felt by New Yorkers for years to come.”
The Bronze Medallion is the City’s highest civic award, and is presented by the Mayor to those who have demonstrated exceptional citizenship and outstanding achievement.
The honorees are:
Luis Alvarez (posthumous): Former New York City Police Detective and 9/11 first-responder
Chief Paul Brown: New York City Department of Sanitation Head of Personnel Management and 9/11first-responder
Ben Chevat: Executive Director of 9/11 Health Watch
John Feal: Founder of the FealGood Foundation and advocate for 9/11 first-responders
Kimberly Flynn: Director of 9/11 Environmental Action and 9/11 children’s advocate
Lila Nordstrom: 9/11 children’s advocate and founder of StuyHealth
Richard Palmer: Former New York City Department of Correction Warden and 9/11 first-responder
Ray Pfiefer (posthumous): Former New York City Firefighter and 9/11 first-responder
Deborah Reeve (posthumous): Former New York City Fire Department Emergency Medical Technician and 9/11 first-responder
Jon Stewart: Advocate for 9/11 first-responders
James Zadroga (posthumous): Former New York City Police Officer and 9/11 first-responder
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey:Accepting on behalf of the Port Authority Police Department – Edward Cetnar, Superintendent of the Port Authority Police Department
Accepting on behalf of the Port Authority civilian employees – Alan Reiss, Director, World Trade Center Construction, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Municipal Labor Committee: Association of Labor Unions representing public sector employees in New York City. Accepting on behalf of the Municipal Labor Committee – Henry Garrido, Co-Chair of the Municipal Labor Committee and Executive Director of District Council 37, AFSCME
U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney: U.S. Representative for New York’s 12th Congressional District
U.S. Representative Peter King: U.S. Representative for New York’s 2nd Congressional District
U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler: U.S. Representative for New York’s 10th Congressional District
Senator Chuck Schumer: U.S. Senator from New York
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: U.S. Senator from New York
"We will never forget the sacrifice our 9/11 heroes made for us, and I am grateful to every single person who helped pass this bill. It took a team, working together with tireless and unyielding energy, to get this bill over the finish line, so that our 9/11 first responders, survivors and their families could finally have some peace of mind as they continue to fight through their illnesses linked to the 9/11 attacks. This bill is a reminder that good people committed to a worthy cause can still make a difference," said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
“I am deeply moved to be joining so many of my friends and colleagues in receiving this honor. We have worked side by side for many years to make sure that the memories of those we lost on 9/11 are never forgotten and that we fulfill our moral obligation to care for those made sick in the aftermath of the attacks. It was one of the great honors of my life to sit as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee this year when we passed the Never Forget the Heroes Act and to stand on the floor of the House when my colleagues from across the country and the political spectrum voted to permanently reauthorize and fund the Victim Compensation Fund. I have rarely been more proud to be a New Yorker than when I was fighting along with my friends - Representatives Maloney and King and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand - and everyone joining me today to see this battle through to the end,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler.
“The permanent reauthorization of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is a testament to everyone who walked the halls of Congress, who refused to take no for an answer. It honors everybody who showed up to save lives and rebuild our nation. While for some, 9/11 is a distant memory, our first responders, survivors and their families will be living with the effects of that day for the rest of their lives. While we will never be able to relieve them of that burden, we made sure that the support promised to them will be available whenever they need it,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.
"It is with great privilege that I extend my gratitude to the Guardians of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, as they receive New York City's highest civic honor for their courageous advocacy. I thank the bill sponsors in the New York Congressional Delegation for their leadership and fervent commitment to this issue. I am deeply moved by the perseverance of the 9/11 first-responders and advocates who fought tirelessly to give American families the care they deserve – they were our heroes that fateful day, and they continue to be our heroes now. We are forever indebted to their service," said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi.
“Those first responders and advocates who fought tirelessly and selflessly to permanently fund the VCF represent the very best of America. Thanks to their efforts, those who ran into danger and put their lives on the lines on 9/11 will be cared for as they deserve. Today, we honor these strong advocates and remember that we as a City and as a nation will be forever indebted to our 9/11 heroes,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes.
“For nearly two decades, New Yorkers have been dealing with the heartbreaking consequences of 9/11,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “Yet until now, no federal law existed to guarantee victims the resources they need. The Victim Compensation Fund Act is a necessary corrective that will provide these heroes with appropriate care—and it was a true team effort to finally get it done, thanks to the advocacy of passionate leaders like James Zadroga and Jon Stewart and elected officials like Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velazquez, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. I congratulate the 9/11survivors, first responders and elected officials who will be receiving a Bronze Medallion from Mayor de Blasio today on their well-deserved recognition for decades of hard work and civic accomplishment.”
“My congratulations go to the honorees receiving the Bronze Medallion today. Everyone being honored by New York City has done tremendous service. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Act helps insure that our first responders and victims receive the support they need if they become ill. I am pleased that the Congress approved continuation of this fund. We cannot let our guard down on these brave people,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz.
“It is our absolute duty to recognize the angels of good among us who use their voices and lives for the betterment of their fellow impacted Sister and Brother, which is why we congratulate the leaders who would not stop until the passage of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund occurred. I will never forget how 9/11 changed lives and New York City forever. Lives were lost and hope was shaken. But, with the presentation of the Bronze Medallion, we as New Yorkers will equally never forget that a coalition of justice seekers would not stop until the victims of 9/11 were protected and honored. I commend Mayor de Blasio for ensuring this recognition occurred. I salute these heroes and will be forever grateful,” said Assembly Member Michael Blake.
"It was a tremendous victory this year when Congress approved a long-term investment in the VCF for 9/11 first responders, and I think that victory was won in large part because of the incredible work from these advocates,” said Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz. “Every one of them should be proud of their efforts, and New Yorkers owe a debt of gratitude to all who were involved."
“I join countless New Yorkers in thanking our leaders for their steadfast commitment to supporting responders and survivors through the passage of the Victim Compensation Fund Act, ensuring that responders will receive critical resources. First responders demonstrate the best in humanity, and we owe them gratitude along with essential health care support,” said Assembly Member Deborah Glick.
"I stand in humble awe at the courage, sacrifice and fortitude of those being honored today" said Deputy Assembly Speaker Catherine Nolan. "They exemplify the best of the City of New York."
“The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund will ensure that thousands of survivors, first responders, and their families have access to the care and support they need,” said City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “The men and women honored today fought tirelessly for this life-saving legislation and we all owe them a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice. Today and every day, we thank them for their bravery and steadfast leadership.”
“Eighteen years after 9/11, Lower Manhattan continues the process of rebuilding. Through it all, the resilience and spirit of New Yorkers have proven to be unshakable — especially in our ongoing fight to help those individuals who sacrificed so much that day. This year, thanks to the spirited coalition driven by first responders, advocates and elected officials like Congresswoman Maloney and Senator Gillibrand, Congress finally passed legislation to permanently renew the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund to give survivors and families long-awaited financial support. Our commitment to bring relief to the thousands of New Yorkers still feeling the health impacts of the attacks almost two decades later has no deadline; our work to fulfill the promise our country made to them continues,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin.
“I'm proud to join our City in recognizing the many advocates who championed the cause to make the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund permanent on behalf of the nearly 50,000 responders and survivors across the country diagnosed with a 9/11 health condition," said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Committee on Civil Service and Labor Chair. "I along with my colleague Council Member Chin proudly sponsored an adopted resolution that amplified their call for The Never Forget the Heroes Act to become law. The City Council's Civil Service and Labor Committee continues to work on behalf of the 9/11 community to ensure its members receive every resource available, and have they peace of mind they deserve. Our movement carries on.”
“The passage of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund Act would not have been possible without the passion and determination of the many esteemed first responders and advocates being honored today,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety. “I’d like to thank them for their advocacy, honor and sacrifice for their family, friends and every survivor from 9/11. I’d also like thank Mayor de Blasio for honoring their service with the Bronze Medallion and all of our representatives in Congress for securing this critical funding for true American heroes.”
“After so many years 9/11 victims and their families are still suffering,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “These heroes bravely gave their lives and many fought to rescue and recover others. We will never forget them. I applaud the advocates that fought so hard for the Victims Compensation Fund to benefit the survivors that we owe a profound debt.”
"It is expected that in just 2 years, more people will have died from 9/11-related illnesses than the 2,753 who died at the Twin Towers that day. For too many heroes and their families, the ultimate sacrifice still awaits. For too many others, the pain of loss is eternal. Make no mistake, the renewal of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Act was only possible because of the incredible effort made by those who refused to give up and let their government fail them again. Frankly, it was insane that these survivors had to lobby politicians to get something like this done. But they did and they made it happen. And for that, we are forever indebted,” said Council Member Justin Brannan.
“I am incredibly grateful to these leaders for their tenaciousness in the fight for the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund. Getting bipartisan support for anything has become nearly impossible but the honorees never gave up and never forgot those who sacrificed their health to help others, they epitomize what it means to be a New Yorker. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for recognizing these individuals,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen.
"Nearly two decades after 9/11, the fight continues to protect our first responders, who selflessly sprang into action when our City needed them the most," said Council Member Costa Constantinides. "Today's honorees are true American heroes, who never gave up their fight to ensure the Victim Compensation Fund continues to take care of our first responders. They embody the duty, service, and friendship of New York City. I congratulate them on their well-deserved honor, especially Astoria native, the late Luis Alvarez, who spent his final days advocating for his brothers and sisters."
"New Yorkers came together in the wake of 9/11 to rebuild our city, sacrificing their health and well-being to get New York back on its feet. Following years of advocacy, the Victim Compensation Fund ensures these heroes are properly cared for. Our mantra to "Never Forget" is permanently upheld. I thank the Mayor and the individuals who never stopped pushing for this critical fund,” said Council Member Keith Powers.
“We don’t say ‘Never forgotten’ because the phrase is true by its own virtue — it’s not. We say it because ‘Never forget’ is a reminder that it’s up to us to manifest this phrase into reality. These honorees have done extraordinary work to ensure that those who sacrificed their bodies to help others are forever in our thoughts and that they receive the care and attention they deserve. I am humbled and grateful to recognize these men and women, whose tireless activism willed the Victims Compensation Fund Act into being.” Said Council Member Francisco Moya
To date, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) has paid out more than 22,000 claims to victims and responders killed or injured due to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and their aftermath. There are more than 95,000 responders and survivors who access medical monitoring and or health care for their 9/11 related health issues through the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program such as respiratory conditions and cancer among other 9/11 related health issues.