Forgotten' WTC first responders honored in N.Y.


Nia-Malika Henderson | | Thursday, September 6, 2007

NASSAU, N.Y. Julius Lisner of Massapequa Park calls himself one of the "forgotten workers" of 9/11. For eight months, he sifted through remains, working to identify victims in a temporary morgue near Ground Zero.

But at a pinning ceremony last night at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, along with 40 other Long Island rescue workers, his tireless efforts were remembered.

"I'm overwhelmed and grateful," he said. "This is very healing for me. I don't want everyone to forget the people who are still having problems."

Lisner, 60, a medical legal investigator for New York City, held his 22-month-old granddaughter as he accepted the blue oval-shaped pin, which bears an image of the American flag in the shape of the Twin Towers against a backdrop of Long Island.

His wife, Marilyn, two of his three daughters and his son-in-law were also at the event, which drew about 150 people.

Lisner suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He sought therapy through Home Ground, based at the hospital, which organized the ceremony.

More than 4,000 other Ground Zero responders have done the same since October 2002, organizers said.

Alexander Jack, 54, a demolition worker from Woodbury, was among them. He spent a month after the attacks volunteering at the World Trade Center. And for the last four years he's been in therapy, dealing with the emotional fallout.

For him, the point of the pinning ceremony was twofold. "A lot of Long Island responders never got any recognition and we are trying to get them to get recognition, but also get them to come in for help," Jack said.

Thomas Demaria, a co-founder of Home Ground and an assistant vice president of behavioral health for the hospital, said recognition is part of recovery.

"Part of responder culture is not to be recognized because they are service-oriented, but part of the healing process is for them to be able to accept recognition for what they did," Demaria said.

Speakers sounded a note of celebration, but also one of concern.

"Responders need help now," said John Feal, president and founder of Feal Good Foundation, which also helps first responders.

Margie Miller, whose husband, Joel Miller, was killed in the North Tower, spoke of workers' sacrifices after the attacks. "We will never forget your noble effort," she said. "You cleared the remains of a city within a city. You tried to bring our loved ones home and we will be forever grateful. The souls of 3,000 people thank you as well."

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