Governor Cuomo’s 911 Speech

September 11, 2016

Transcript of the Governor Cuomo speech:

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you very, very much. Well, what a great, group. I want to thank you all for taking the time for this show of respect, because that’s what this is. Each and every one of you got a bike, you rode a long distance, just to show your respect, so let’s give yourselves a round of applause.

Rabbi Potasnik, let’s give him a round of applause for his service and we thank you. Steve Cassidy who represents the firefighters and Pat Lynch who represents the NYPD. You could not have two better leaders than Cassidy and Lynch and you couldn’t have two better leaders at a more important time because this nation, this state and this city is in turmoil. There’s a lot of controversy and a lot of chaos and some people don’t value people who perform public service the way they should. In Steve Cassidy and Pat Lynch you have great fighters for the Fire Department and the Police Department, and every one of us in this room are behind you guys. Thank you and God bless you.

Now Kevin James was a Long Island boy. He lost his way for a period of time, moved out to a state on the west coast. I forget what they call that state. It’s a long one. It’s got the Pacific on it. What do they call that thing? Mexico. Yeah, Mexico, but he has learned the error of his ways and he has come back home. He is back on Long Island and he is now shooting movies on Long Island. He is in a new show coming out, Kevin Can Wait, where he plays a retired NYPD officer, so we’re waiting to see that. He did fall into trouble in the back because Pat Lynch, as he said, he came up to him and he said, “You know, King of Queens.” Pat Lynch said, “People say I was the King of Queens.” I said to Kevin and to Pat, “Neither of you are the King of Queens. I’m the King of Queens, just so we’re clear.”

We were at the ceremony this morning, fifteen years. Fifteen years. It’s hard to get your head around. In some ways it feels like it was yesterday. The pain, the loss, just like it was yesterday. You can still see the faces and the smiles. You can still hear the voices of the ones we lost. In some ways it feels like it was an eternity ago. Fifteen years and how much as changed? When 9/11 happened fifteen years ago, the sense was it was a onetime situation. We had 1993 before that at the World Trade Center, but 9/11 was a onetime affair. What we have learned over the past fifteen years is it was not the end. It was just the beginning.

We now have terrorist attacks that occur at such a frequency and regularity that it will not even get in the front of the newspaper anymore. Seems like every week now, 50 lost, 75 lost, bomb in this airport, bomb in this gathering place. All around the globe. We’ve had our share in this country, but all around the globe it is an international phenomenon that terrorism has reached a crisis level and it is something we’re going to have to deal with.

I’d love to be able to say as Governor of New York, “Don’t worry about it. It’s going to go away on its own.” It is not going to go away on its own, and it is not going to get better on its own. This country is a target of terrorist organizations all across the globe because we stand for democracy and freedom and they cannot allow that to remain. They oppose it, and they oppose this country as a symbol of freedom and democracy, but I can say as Governor of New York that we can handle this situation. Because we have the best men and women in our armed services, we have the best men and women in the NYPD, we have the best men and women in the FDNY, and because we have the people of New York and this country who will always be there to rise to an occasion.

What did 9/11 say? 9/11 said you knock us down and we get up, and we get up twice as strong. 9/11 said “You attack one of us, you attack all of us, and we will all respond.” And when you attack New York and Pennsylvania and Washington, this entire nation rose to its feet. When you attacked Ground Zero, people from all across the state showed up, all across the nation showed up just to help. That is what makes this nation unbeatable, the character of the people of this country, and that is why it makes me so proud on this day.

Pat Lynch said, “It’s a schizophrenic day.” We mourn the loss of 9/11 but we are proud to be Americans and proud to see how we rebuilt. The one other lesson for today is to say to the victims, to say to their families, to say to their children, many of whom never saw their father, fifteen years. Think about it. They don’t even remember what their parent look slike. Our message is “You will never be alone, and we will never forget.”

We will never forget and you will never be alone. We are announcing today that we are going to build a memorial to the victims and survivors on 9/11 on this 15th anniversary to say, we will never forget and you will never be alone, and those are not just words. Those are not just words – that is our solemn vow that we will do whatever we have to do. No amount of red tape and no amount of bureaucracy will stop us from being there one for another. Especially the people we lost on 9/11 and the hundreds and hundreds of people who helped on 9/11 and have gotten sick since.

This morning I ran into Wendy and Sal Turturici. I have trouble with those Italian names. Wendy and Sal, I met this morning at Ground Zero and Wendy and Sal told me about an injustice that has been going on for too long, where there was a deadline, whereby you had to sign on to be eligible for benefits if you became sick from 9/11, and that deadline has come and passed. So if you got sick in the past few years, and that sickness was due to what you did on 9/11, you are not entitled to benefits. It is the worst of all worlds – you are sick, you are sick because of the work you did on 9/11, but your government does not recognize your illness for the purpose of benefits. So you have to go through that illness, you have to worry about your wife, you have to worry about your husband, you have to worry about your kids, and government isn’t there to help you. They said, “There’s a bill that has been pending that would move the deadline to today – so people who missed the initial deadline could still sign up and still receive the benefits that they deserve.”

I went back to my office. We made government move a little faster than usual, we pulled up that bill. I’m going to ask Wendy and Sal to join me and we are going to sign that bill extending that deadline to give Wendy and Sal the benefits they need and the benefits they deserve. Thank you and God bless America.