Dedication at 9/11 Memorial to honor rescue and recovery workers at Ground Zero

LOWER MANHATTAN (WABC) -- A ceremony was held Tuesday honoring the rescue and recovery workers who toiled at Ground Zero after the September 11th attacks, but eventually there are plans to permanently honor their efforts.

Plans are underway for a permanent dedication at the 9/11 Memorial paying tribute to the workers.

The announcement was made Tuesday by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, 9/11 Memorial Board Chair and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Board Member and former 'Daily Show' host Jon Stewart.

New York State, through its affiliates, and Bloomberg Philanthropies will provide support and funding for the dedication that will be located on the Memorial Glade on the southwest corner of the 8-acre plaza.

For several months, Memorial and Museum officials have been exploring creating a commemorative space and walkway to recognize rescue and recovery workers, the governor's office said.

It will also bring awareness to the health issues faced by many of the workers.

"Fifteen years after 9/11, we still feel the pain and loss as if it were yesterday," Governor Cuomo said. "This new tribute will be a poignant reminder of the selflessness and courage of our first responders, who embody the best of New Yorkers, and ensure their sacrifice will never be forgotten."

Also on Tuesday, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is holding a ceremony to honor 9/11 rescue and recovery workers, and recognize the 15th anniversary of the end of formal recovery operations at the World Trade Center.

It had been round the clock work to search for victims, along with the herculean effort to clear the site.

"The two buildings had already collapsed. 7 World Trade Center was a mess. Everybody was being pulled out of it. No was chaotic," said FDNY firefighter Ray Pfeifer, who worked the site and would become one of the thousands of responders diagnosed with cancer believed to be from the toxins at the site.

Ray Pfeifer died Sunday after an eight-year battle with cancer, but not before he tirelessly persuaded Congress to approve health care for 9/11 responders and survivors.

He spoke to Eyewitness News two years ago.

"We still have missing people. We didn't find everybody. We don't have the DNA for everyone. In my firehouse alone there are four guys still missing," Pfeifer said.

Marking the 15th anniversary of the end of operations, workers shared their memories and discussed the health impacts that for many are still ongoing.
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