We lost another brother this weekend.

Jeffrey M. Cicora, a Baldwinsville, New York resident and former state trooper died Saturday from a work related illness that he contacted while working at Ground Zero. Many fell ill, such a Cicora, due to working on site following the 9/11 terror attacks. 

Cicora was a former sergeant and station commander at the Lysander barracks. He had worked in the rubble of the 9/11 aftermath as part of the search and rescue effort, according to state police. 

Cicora began duty as a state trooper on Oct. 12, 1992, and remained on the job for 24 years.

During an interview with a local veterinarian’s office in July 2015, Cicora explained how he was a K9 officer for part of his career.

To add to his work at Ground Zero, he was deployed to John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports after the attacks. Cicora, with the help of his K9 partner, Devitt, spent six months searching through planes, in luggage, motorcades and airplane terminals for explosives.

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Cicora was honored with the Superintendent’s Commendation Award  in 2014 for his work in the arrest of David Renz. Renz raped a 10-year-old girl and murdered the woman who tried to save her. The vicious attack took place in 2013. 

Cicora was the first state trooper to respond to a 911 call reporting a stabbing. Upon arrival, he saw two people helping the the victims. Cicora located Renz in a woods with the assistance of a police dog.

The honorable trooper, while fighting cancer in 2016, had a special party for children at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. He organized the kids that were being treated for cancer and other serious illnesses.

“I thought if these little guys up there can fight it, so can I,” Cicora had said. 

The children were delighted as 100 trooper teddy bears were handed out to them by 20 fellow troopers. Police dogs were also present at the party for the children to pet. It was a memorable night for many. 

Cicora is one of many other first responders that have suffered from medical conditions in response to 9/11. The toxicity that filled the area of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks was something that they all had to came in contact with.  

On March 31, 2019, 75,036 responders enlisted in the Center for Disease Control’s World Trade Center health program. 

Approximatley 1,611 of those first responders have died from conditions covered under the Zadroga Act. The act is a federal legislation that is named after James Zadroga, a New York police officer who died of a 9/11-related illness. The act provides health monitoring and financial aid to 9/11 first responders and survivors who were present at the attack sites. 

As of July 29, 2019, the September 11th Victim fund was elongated for an additional ten years. To add to that, $10.2 billion has been allocated to cover compensation costs for those affected due to illnesses resulting from the working following 9/11. 

Last month, we lost another 9/11 responder from Harlem, New York.

A gentleman. A pillar of strength. A voice of reason. A hero.

These are the ways that New York City police Officer Raymond Harris was described after he passed away from a 9/11-related illness on Sunday, August 4th.

Veteran police officer Raymond Harris had been working for the NYPD since his appointment to the 77th Precinct in 1990. He worked tirelessly in the wreckage following the attacks on the Twin Towers and has been battling the medical ailments that came along with it ever since.

nypd_raymond_harris_9/11_illness

NYPD Officer Raymond Harris passed away from a 9/11-related illness on Sunday, August 4. (NYPD 77th Precinct/Flickr)

 

His symptoms began developing in 2002, but it wasn’t until 2009 that Harris was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease affecting multiple organs but predominantly the lungs.

“Unfortunately for my husband it spread through his body like cancer,” said Harris’s wife.

He has fought an incredible fight, but on Sunday, he succumbed to the battle.

“The effects of 9/11 would go on to ravage Ray’s body in unimaginable ways but Ray fought this horrible disease for years, proclaiming to the world that he would fight until he won. He fought, and fought hard until the very end,” a post from the NYPD read.

Harris spent the last 265 days in a hospital before finally letting go. His wife of 25 years, LaSharn Harris, spoke about the moments before his last breath.

“He said to me that day, I need to let go and I need my dignity. Please don’t strip me from my dignity. I had to make the hardest decision of my life and I had to tell him he was ok,” she said.

Harris worked for the 77th Precinct of the NYPD. They released the following post on social media following the tragic news of his passing.

 

“If you looked up the word “gentleman” in any dictionary, you would likely find the definition to read, “a chivalrous, courteous, or honorable man.” If anyone who ever met Police Officer Raymond Harris were to right a dictionary it would certainly include a picture of Ray directly under that definition,” the post read.

They went on to say how valuable Harris always was as a member of the force. 

“Harris quickly became a fixture, a leading figure, a voice of reason, and a source of great advice and knowledge. If you had any question or any problem, Ray would be the first person most other officers would turn to.”

Permanent funding for the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund was finally passed and signed by President Trump after a tumultuous journey through the House and Senate.

“Today we come together as one nation to support our September 11th heroes to care for their families and to renew our eternal vow — never ever forget,” Trump said when he signed the bill.

He went on to praise the incredible efforts that our nation’s first responders put forth.

“The love and loyalty of our 9/11 responders knew no bounds,” Trump said. “They answered terror with the emotional strength of true American warriors.” 

Finally - a tribute to 9/11 emergency responders

First responders work to clear the rubble after the deadly terrorist attacks in downtown Manhattan. (DoD)

 

Many attribute the final success of the bill to the Congressional testimony of former NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez. Alvarez recently passed away after going through his 69th round of chemotherapy due to complications from being at Ground Zero.

“We are not here for anything for ourselves,” said Alvarez. “I did not want to be anywhere else but Ground Zero. We showed the world we would never back down and that we can all work together.”

Alvarez said he wasn’t there for himself, he was there so the victims who come after him are taken care of.

“My life isn’t worth more than the next responder to get cancer. This fund is not a ticket to paradise, it’s there to provide to our families when we aren’t there,” he said.

Alvarez dead

Luis Alvarez, a former NYPD Detective, testifies before Congress. (Twitter/Flickr)

 

Tragically, Luis Alvarez passed away just weeks after offering his heartbreaking testimony.

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