Former New York City Police Officer Anthony Flammia knows how big events work in this city. He knows what it's like when dignitaries visit, when organizations hold events, and, of course, when there is a parade.
So he is confused as to why 9/11 first responders, such as himself, cannot attend the World Trade Center (WTC) memorial ceremony on Sunday, which will mark the 10-year anniversary of September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.
Travesty, he called it, and absolutely ridiculous and disrespectful to the 9/11 community.
Mayor Bloomberg cited space constraints as a reason for not allowing first responders to attend.
While we are again focused on accommodating victims' family members, given the space constraints, we're working to find ways to recognize and honor first responders, and other groups, at different places and times, Bloomberg Spokesperson Andrew Brent said in a statement.
A Double Standard?
But Flammia, 48, does not buy this explanation, not after he spent so many years seeing the city accommodate all types of events with varying levels of space and security.
They can't do it for the people who rescued the city during the toughest time in history? he said.
Flammia pointed out that first responders were always allowed to go to the WTC site for anniversary services in previous years. These were open forums, opportunities for people to mourn, reflect and heal at the site of devastation.
But not this year, apparently.
Families of victims will still be allowed to attend the ceremony, a decision Flammia understands and respects.
They have first dibs no matter what, he said.
But he is still upset that he and his fellow first responders cannot.
Flammia Spent 200 Hours Working at Ground Zero
Flammia spent approximately 200 hours at ground zero and in the area. He assisted in evacuating people and escorted the remains of police officers and firefighters. He accompanied the families of these victims so that they could pay their respects at the scene.
Like many other first responders, Flammia acquired mental and physical injuries from his time at ground zero, injuries that would eventually prevent him from doing his job and force him to retire in 2008.
I thought I was good and then it slowed me down, he said.
He plans to spend this Sunday reflecting on the families of first responders, such as his own, who have seen him and other first responders suffer from injuries and disabilities they acquired from spending so much time at ground zero.
Families of first responders were forgotten, he said. They were the ones maintaining the household, taking kids to school, keeping everything going while their loved ones fought a different type of war in lower Manhattan.
We didn't close the door on anyone, Flammia said. We rescued everyone.