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Sunday, October 1, 2023


STAFF EDITORIAL: As years pass, burden for survivors never fully clears

Seven isn’t a popular number for anniversaries. Ten, 25, 50 and 75 all have a nice ring to them. Silver, gold and platinum mark decades of commemoration. But what is done after seven years? Not much.

Seven years ago almost 3,000 people died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and more than 200 were seriously injured. More than 400 of the emergency workers who came to help were killed or seriously injured.

The ache of that loss doesn’t stop when a formal acknowledgment does. Neither do sustained injuries.

Both The Washington Post and The New York Times ran articles this week discussing lingering effects felt by 9/11 survivors and witnesses.

The Washington Post cited a health report covering symptoms victims had two to three years after the attacks. New cases of asthma, post-traumatic stress disorder and severe psychological damage were reported.

The New York Times gave those sufferers faces by focusing on three individuals who were badly injured. All three suffered extensive burns. All three still suffer. Scars mar their skin and some areas are so delicate they cannot perform simple daily tasks for fear of tearing than skin.

These painful stories are the ones most often forgotten. When one dies in an attack a family mourns a loss. But survivors also mourn. They mourn the life they had before it was stolen and altered forever.

Seven years is a strange time. It’s too long to conjure the same tribute as five, and too short to invoke that of 10. It’s too long to feel the same level of grief as that immediately after the attacks, but too short to forget it.

While there might not be many official observances or moments of silence today, that doesn’t mean one can’t and shouldn’t take time to reflect.

Remember those who perished and the pain their families have felt, but also take time to think about those affected by the event, who still live with physical and emotional scars.It’s a big number: 71,437 people participated in the health study The Washington Post referred to. The newspaper reported that was only about 17.4 percent of people who, as a result of their experiences, would have been eligible.

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