Good morning. Welcome to the Empire State Plaza and welcome to the New York State Assembly's ceremony honoring the 9/11 rescue and recovery workers.
May I say how pleased I am that my local heroes, Catherine McVeigh Hughes of Community Board One and Morris Faitelewicz of Community Board Three, are here with us today. Both leaders were deeply involved in the recovery effort.
As the assemblyman who represents the World Trade Center site, I am proud to be co-sponsoring this tribute with my colleague, Assemblyman Michael Den Dekker, who served at that time with the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management and was cited for his outstanding work during the 9/11 crisis.
We are delighted to be joined by so many of our Assembly colleagues from both sides of the aisle.
In memory of those rescuers and recovery workers who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, as well as those who died as a result of their exposure to the debris, let us pause for a moment of silence.
May we also keep in our prayers all of the heroes and the residents of Downtown who are currently struggling with World Trade Center-related illnesses.
Much has been said and much has been written about the heroic efforts of New York's Finest and New York's Bravest on 9/11 and in the days and weeks that followed, and rightfully so.
We also know that thousands of New Yorkers from every walk of life, raced to the World Trade Center, endured the horror, braved the danger, and worked together to lift New York from the destruction and the despair.
To the rescue and recovery workers who are here today, let me say that I will never forget what you did for my Lower Manhattan community.
You are an inspiration to me, to my colleagues, to New Yorkers and to decent, civilized, law-abiding citizens across our great nation and around the world.
More than inspiration, you provided us with much-needed assurance.
We sometimes think that heroism is a rare and precious commodity, that heroes are summoned to duty by some golden clarion that only the few can hear.
What you showed us is that heroes are all around us.
In times of crisis, heroes appear in every size and shape and age, in every color, every creed, every background.
You came to Ground Zero to make a difference.
You asked for nothing in return, not glory, not reward.
You served with a dedication and selflessness that words cannot capture and you accepted risks from which many, many others ran away.
New York moves forward in this post-9/11 world bolstered by the knowledge that you are out there, ready to act, ready to save the day, whenever and wherever duty calls.
Speaking for the residents of Lower Manhattan, my hometown, I thank you and I do so, recognizing that you are owed a debt that we can never repay.
Today, we make sure that at the very least, the debt will never be forgotten.
Thank you, again. Enjoy your day in Albany. You have more than earned it.