[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/12/21/gillibrand.wtc.responders.bill/t1larg.gillibrand.senate.jpg caption="Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand argues for passage of the 9/11 responders bill, accompanied by first responder Capt. John Gallagher, left." width=300 height=169]
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Special to CNN
Editor's note: Kirsten E. Gillibrand was sworn in as U.S. senator for New York in January 2009, filling the seat of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Before her appointment, she served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New York's 20th Congressional District.
(CNN) - On September 11, 2001, when thousands of innocent men and women lost their lives, tens of thousands more came to their assistance.
We as a nation saw greater acts of heroism than we could have imagined: First responders from all over New York and all over the country came to ground zero to save lives, provide proper burial for lives that were lost and assist in the enormous effort to clean up and recover from that devastating attack on our nation.
Tragically, in the nine years since the attack, more than 30,000 responders and survivors from across the country have had to be medically treated because of their exposure to ground zero toxins. They are waiting for Congress to pass legislation to ensure that they can continue to get the care they need.
Our 9/11 heroes didn't think twice that day. Bound by duty, a love of our nation and their fellow Americans, they joined hand in hand with heroes from every corner of America to come to our rescue.
Now, it's long past time we came to theirs. Nine years ago, no one could have imagined that our nation would ignore our duty to the 9/11 heroes. Nine years ago, no one could have imagined that our country would leave these heroes behind.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act would finally provide monitoring and treatment for World Trade Center responders and community members who are suffering, and for those who traveled to ground zero from all across America.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with