From The Mayor's Desk ...
On Monday, the families of those who perished at the World Trade Center five years ago once again gathered at that site for a solemn memorial ceremony. And all across our city, there were other observances of this anniversary of 9/11, including one in Lower Manhattan on Sunday that President Bush attended. All of us, in our own ways, paid tribute to the more than 2,700 loved ones, friends, and neighbors we lost that terrible day, and extended our comfort to those who still grieve for them. Because it's the duty of each of us to remember, to provide for those who still bear the wounds of 9/11, and also to continue to forge New York City's future, together.
We must preserve the memories of 9/11-which is why last week I was honored to help dedicate the new Tribute Center located across the street from the World Trade Center site. It was created by the dedicated men and women of the September 11 th Families Association. It will open to the public on September 18 th, and I urge everyone to pay a visit to its emotionally powerful exhibits. Until the World Trade Center memorial and museum open in 2009, it will be the place that movingly honors the sacrifice and heroism of all those lost on 9/11 and in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
We also have a duty to help those who may now suffer from the physical and psychological after-effects of 9/11. So, expanding on past efforts, last week we launched major new 9/11-related health initiatives. They include establishing a "WTC Environmental Health Center" at Bellevue Hospital. It will provide specialized care to anyone exposed to the dust and fumes released by the collapse of the Trade Center towers-especially those who haven't received help to date. We're nearly tripling the size of the City Health Department's World Trade Center Unit, increasing its ability to monitor and investigate respiratory disorders and other health conditions. We're thoroughly exploring ways to ensure prompt, coordinated City action concerning WTC-related illnesses. And we're stepping up efforts to secure necessary Federal funding for 9/11 health services and benefits.
The response to the 9/11 attack showed New Yorkers at our best-and five years later, we have a duty to go forward with the same courage, determination, and spirit of unity that carried us through those dark hours and the recovery that followed. We've come a long way, together, since 9/11. Today, our city is safer than at any time in recent memory. We're making huge strides in improving our schools. Our economy in all five boroughs is growing. And last week's unveiling of the dazzling designs for Towers 2, 3, and 4 at the World Trade Center site gave more evidence that Lower Manhattan is well on its way to becoming the vibrant 21 st century commercial and residential downtown that we've worked hard to make it.
We've also learned a great deal over these past five years; we recognize now that we can never lower our guard or become complacent in this age of terrorism. Yet in our hearts we also know that if we continue to embrace our freedoms, live with courage, and work to make this a better world for all our children, our city will prevail. And that will be the best way to honor the memory of all those we lost five years ago.