Roses line the north memorial pool at the 15th Anniversary of September 11 at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, on September 11, 2016 in New York. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)

Remembering 9/11

By Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:54 p.m. ET, September 14, 2020
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12:54 p.m. ET, September 14, 2020

Actor Denis Leary discusses the health problems first responders continue to face after 9/11

Actor Denis Leary, who starred in "Rescue Me," a TV show about New York City firefighters set in the aftermath of 9/11, discussed what life has been for many New Yorkers 19 years after the attacks.

On an episode of "Full Circle with Anderson Cooper, "Leary spoke about the number of firefighters and first responders who continue to die due to illnesses suffered after responding to ground zero.

"This is happening over and over again," Leary said.

Leary also discussed how firefighters are in need of personal protective equipment as the coronavirus pandemic persists.

Some data: From 2001 to 2003, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) processed claims relating to injuries and deaths caused by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In 2011, the fund was re-opened to compensate first responders and individuals who later experienced health problems related to 9/11.

The WTC Health Registry monitors the health of registrants who were directly exposed to the disaster.

The fund received 7,408 claim submissions from 75 countries. Awards were made in 5,560 of those cases and totaled over $7 billion.

The fund received 2,963 death claims. This accounted for more than 98% of eligible families. Funds were distributed in 2,880 of these cases. The average award was $2,082,128 and went as high as $7.1 million.

The fund received 4,445 personal injury claims. Funds were distributed in 2,680 of these cases. The awards ranged from $500.00 to $8.6 million.

The money was tax-free.


3:44 p.m. ET, September 11, 2020

Trump awards Medal of Honor to Army Ranger for Iraq hostage rescue

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

President Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to an Army Ranger who helped rescue more than 70 hostages being held by Islamic State militants in Iraq in 2015.

The White House announced last week that the President would recognize Army Sgt. Maj. Thomas P. Payne with the award on Sept. 11 for "conspicuous gallantry." The President presented the award to Payne in a White House ceremony today.

Payne had led a combined assault team during a "daring nighttime hostage rescue" in Kirkuk province, Iraq, the White House said in a statement.

"Sergeant Payne's extraordinary heroism and selfless actions were key to liberating 75 hostages during a contested rescue mission that resulted in 20 enemy fighters killed in action," the statement said.

Mass graves dug inside the compound had been spotted during surveillance, a US official with direct knowledge of details of the raid told CNN at the time. After the rescue, hostages said they had been told they would be executed after morning prayers.

The Medal of Honor is the most prestigious decoration in the US military. Recipients must have demonstrated "incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit," the White House statement said.

3:43 p.m. ET, September 11, 2020

Biden commemorates bravery of those who died on Flight 93

From CNN's Sarah Mucha 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

After visiting the 9/11 memorial in New York City this morning, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spent the second part of his day at the memorial at the crash site of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. He then stopped to bring beer and sweets to firefighters at a firehouse before departing the state.

At the memorial site, he and Jill placed a wreath in front of the name of First Office Leroy Homer, a victim of the crash and spent time speaking with Cheryl and Camal Homer, Leroy Homer's relatives, along with several other relatives of victims. 

Biden spoke with the press briefly on his way out, praising the bravery and courage of those on Flight 93. Asked what the memorial means to him, Biden replied, "It’s hard to underestimate the willingness of decent people to literally lay down their lives." 

"When you think about what happened — it’s one thing to react when you’re in a situation where you’re confronted with something and you have to act immediately. It’s another thing to consciously know that what you’re about to do is likely to cost you your life. That is an incredible thing," he said. 

Biden mentioned that he was here in 2011 and added, "I’ve been here on four occasions and it astounds me." 

He said his mom used to have an expression: "'Joey, bravery resides in every heart and someday it will be summoned, the question is, will you respond?'" he said, quoting his mother. "And people responded. It’s absolutely incredible. It’s sort of, I know it’s not a uniquely American trait. But this is a country that never, never, never, never, never gives up. Never. Because we’re raising great kids like this one," he said gesturing to Marissa Yee, the bagpipe player.

Biden was then asked how young people who were born after 9/11 can commemorate it. He said they can do so the same way that people who were born after D-Day commemorate that moment. 

2:36 p.m. ET, September 11, 2020

New York governor signs legislation extending the 9/11 Workers Protection Task Force

From CNN's Julian Cummings

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation today that extends the September 11 Workers Protection Task Force.

The task force was formed in 2005 to obtain data regarding adverse health effects on workers who participated in rescue, recovery and response at the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks. The program was designed to identify limitations of existing programs for disabilities for those workers and to make recommendations to improve programs. 

The legislation extends the existence of the Task Force for five years through June 2025.

"These brave men and women selflessly put their health and safety at risk to help New York recover in the aftermath of 9/11 and they deserve to be taken care of the way they took care of us," Cuomo said in a statement. "This measure will help ensure they continue to receive the care they need and that New York is able to act to meet their evolving needs."  
1:44 p.m. ET, September 11, 2020

Biden reflects on 9/11 and the strength of families visiting memorial today

From CNN’s Arlette Saenz

Patrick Semansky/AP
Patrick Semansky/AP

At the 9/11 Memorial in New York City this morning, Joe Biden reflected on what September 11 means to him and the strength of the families who lost loved ones and visited the memorial today.

“It means I remember all my friends that I lost,” Biden said in response to a question from an AP reporter, according to the print pool.

“It takes a lot of courage for someone that lost someone to come back today,” Biden continued. “I know from experience, losing my wife, my daughter, my son, you relive it, the moment as if it’s happening. It’s hard. It’s a wonderful memorial, but it’s hard. It just brings you back to the moment it happened, no matter how long, how much time passes. So I admire the families who come.”

1:43 p.m. ET, September 11, 2020

Biden visits Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania

Patrick Semansky/AP
Patrick Semansky/AP

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden are visiting the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to mark the 19th anniversary of 9/11.

Biden laid a wreath on the memorial wall that honors the victims of United Flight 93, which crashed after it was hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

President Trump delivered remarks there earlier today, and the names of the 40 passengers and crew that died in the crash were read out loud and bells were rung in their honor.

12:20 p.m. ET, September 11, 2020

9/11 responders who die of Covid-19 may still be eligible for victim compensation fund

From CNN’s Lauren del Valle

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund released new guidance ensuring that if a person seeking compensation for a 9/11-related illness dies from Covid-19 complications, their families still could be eligible to participate in the fund.  

The guidance was released on the program's website Thursday, the day before the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. 

Posted in the Frequently Asked Questions guide, the directive explains that even if someone dies of Covid-19, his or her family is still eligible for wrongful death compensation if the 9/11-related illness is listed as the immediate cause of death, an underlying cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death.  

11:39 a.m. ET, September 11, 2020

Kamala Harris describes where she was on 9/11

From CNN's Caroline Kenny

Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff attended a 9/11 ceremony outside the Public Safety HQ at Fairfax County Government Center in northern Virginia this morning.

Speaking at the ceremony, Harris described where she was when she saw the news of what was going on in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon that day.

“I was in California, it was early in the morning there," she said. "I was actually at the gym and then the images started to come on the TVs and everyone stopped. Got off their equipment. And we all stood around in utter disbelief, in utter disbelief. Strangers were hugging each other. People who had never spoken to each other before were holding each other and crying."

Harris also focused her remarks on the American spirit that was shown on 9/11 and the days afterward. She said that the ability to act with love and courage in the face of tragedy is what defines Americans.

“What our attackers failed to understand is that the darkness they hoped would envelope us on 9/11 instead summoned our most radiant and defined human instincts," she said. "The instinct to care for one another, to transcend our divisions and see ourselves as fellow citizens. To race toward danger and risk everything to protect each other, the instinct to unite."

She continued: "If we learned anything watching the heroes of 9/11, it’s that the strength of the human spirit knows no bounds and that even the greatest threats against us only serve to reveal our true strength. That our capacity to act with love and courage in the face of immense challenge is what defines us as Americans.” 


10:41 a.m. ET, September 11, 2020

Trump: "While we cannot erase your pain, we can help to shoulder your burden"

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump is delivering remarks at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to mark the 19th anniversary of 9/11. The site honors the victims of United Flight 93, which crashed after it was hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

"To every 9/11 member all across this nation: The first lady and I come to this hallowed ground deeply aware that we cannot fill the void in your heart or erase the terrible sorrow of this day. The agony renewed, the nightmare re-lived, the wounds re-opened, the last treasured words played over and over again in your minds. But while we cannot erase your pain, we can help to shoulder your burden. We promise that unwavering love that you so want and need, support, devotion and the very special devotion of all Americans," Trump said.

Trump described how the passengers fought back against the hijackers, who intended to crash the plane into the US Capitol. Instead, the plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

"In this Pennsylvania field, the 40 intrepid souls of Flight 93 died as true heroes. Their momentous deeds will outlive us all," Trump continued.

The President also honored the first responders who died during the attacks.

"On that day, more than 400 first responders gave their lives – including 23 New York City police officers, 37 Port Authority workers, and 343 New York City firefighters. Today, we honor their extraordinary sacrifice, and every first responder who keeps America safe," the President said.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will be visiting the site later today.