President Donald Trump has signed legislation to ensure that a victims’ compensation fund related to the Sept. 11 attacks never runs out of money.
Appearing in the Rose Garden with more than 60 first responders from the 2001 terrorist attacks, Trump set in law an extension of the fund through 2092, essentially making it permanent.
“You inspire all of humanity,” Trump said of the “true American warriors” who rushed to assist victims on the day of the attacks and searched for remains for months after the attack, The Associated Press reported Monday.
The nation has a “sacred obligation” to care for the responders and their families, Trump said.
We couldn’t agree more.
On 9/11 we all watched with stunned horror at what happened in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Our national sense of invincibility was shattered.
We watched panicked Manhattan workers run away from the collapsing World Trade Center buildings, while brave first responders ran toward the tragedy, many to never return. Their heroism was high on the list of the things we swore we would never forget.
More than 40,000 people have applied to the fund, which covers illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the attacks.
But time had an erosive effect on our promises of 2001. In all honesty, the nation did not slacken in its love and admiration for the men and women who risked, and in too many cases, gave their lives that day. But other concerns and a sense that someone else was taking care of business led to a shameful neglect for the 9/11 heroes.
The $7.4 billion fund had been rapidly depleting, and administrators recently cut benefit payments by up to 70%. The Washington Post has reported that the fund was set to stop taking claims in December 2020 unless it was extended.
We all should thank comedian Jon Stewart and other activists who slapped us back into action and forced a balky Congress to act.
We swore we would never forget, and we did. Shame on us. It’s good that the 9/11 fund has been funded permanently. It was a solemn promise that we must fulfill.
Planning the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre history center