9/11 Memorial Actby Representative Jerrold Nadler
Posted on 2016-02-09
NADLER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, more than 14 years ago, two jet planes were deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center--killing thousands of innocent people. A third plane slammed into the Pentagon, and a fourth plane, likely destined for this very Capitol complex in which we now stand, was brought down by a group of courageous passengers in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
As I do today, I represented Ground Zero--the World Trade Center area--on September 11, 2001. In the hours immediately after the attack, I left Washington and took the last train back to my home in New York. I will never forget the moment I first saw the ravaged skyline of Lower Manhattan from the train windows. Normally, on the train, while going between Philadelphia and New York, I would look to see the first glimpse I could catch of the Twin Towers. Now what you could see were not the Twin Towers but long, tall, billowing clouds of smoke that were going straight up and then were stretching down the Jersey Shore. The Twin Towers had been replaced by the brutal glow of raging fires and of black, billowing smoke.
The train that left at 10 o'clock arrived at 6 p.m. We had been held up in Baltimore while they walked the tracks, looking for bombs. Coming out of Penn Station at 6 o'clock was like a scene from the movie ``On the Beach'' for those who remember that movie. Nothing was moving. The city at 33rd Street and Eighth Avenue seemed completely empty--no people, no cars, no buses. There was nothing moving as if it were completely depopulated. To get home, I had to call a friend to come pick me up.
When I went down to the World Trade Center the next morning, the scene was absolutely horrible. There was fire, smoke, debris, twisted metal, human remains--total devastation. Yet, even then, there were signs of hope. Firefighters, police, Emergency Medical Technicians, ironworkers, and construction workers of all types rushed to Ground Zero from around the country to offer their help. Messages of support and comfort flooded in from all 50 States. The American people were united and determined to help New York get back on its feet. The attack may have occurred in my district, but it was an attack on our Nation as a whole, and we all recognized that.
In the years since the attacks, America has acted as a Nation to help rebuild New York and to support the responders, survivors, and families of the victims. Last year, Congress reauthorized the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act so as to provide health care and support the 33,000 responders and survivors who now live in all 50 States and in 429 congressional districts. By passing a permanent health program and reauthorizing the Victim Compensation Fund, Congress provided peace of mind for tens of thousands of brave Americans.
In addition to making our responders and survivors whole, Congress invested billions of dollars to help rebuild Lower Manhattan. One World Trade Center now fills the hole that was left in our skyline when the towers fell, and businesses that were shuttered after the attack are reopened and are thriving. In what was once the shadow of the towers, there now stands a comprehensive museum that is dedicated to sharing the stories of September 11th and the bravery of those who risked everything to protect their fellow Americans on that day and on the days following.
In place of the smoking hole that Congressman MacArthur and I saw day after day in Lower Manhattan, there now exists a somber and inspiring memorial. It is a site of remembrance and hope--a place for every American to come and reflect as to what happened on that September morning and to renew our promise to never forget the events of that day. It is a national memorial for a national tragedy.
That is why I am pleased to cosponsor the legislation, introduced by my colleague from New Jersey, to provide Federal recognition and support for the memorial. This legislation will help ensure the memorial continues to provide a sacred and inspiring spot for generations to come.
[[Page H636]] I appreciate the bipartisan support from the members of the Natural Resources Committee and from the House leadership in bringing this bill to the floor today. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee every year to ensure that the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum receives appropriate levels of funding. I will also work with my colleagues to maintain open communications with the Department of the Interior to ensure the money is spent wisely and achieves our shared goal of ensuring the memorial remains a spot of reflection and peace and is accessible to millions of visitors every day.
I urge my colleagues to support this bill and provide the recognition and support this memorial deserves.
Mr. MacARTHUR. Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge Representative Nadler, and I thank him for his support in this process.
I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Donovan).