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“After the tragedy, New Yorkers are more united than ever in their vision and appreciation for what life in freedom means — and that when we stand together, we can achieve anything.”
-Governor George E. Pataki
On Sunday, the twenty-first birthday of the September 11 terrorist attacksI was invited to attend a memorial reception with George Pataki, the fifty-third governor of New York.
I was honored to be one of five people chosen to receive his annual Freedom Award for the advocacy I have done over the years on behalf of the families whose loved ones died after contracting COVID-19 in nursing homes.
My husband Sean Newman, a battalion commander in the… New York City Fire Departmentcame with me, on a day already filled with sorrow and sorrow for him.
On 9/11, he lost all 12 men in his fire station working that day as they rushed into the World Trade Center before falling to the ground. And now, more than two years later, he is still mourning the loss of his parents, who both died of the coronavirus during the height of the pandemic in their separate aged care facilities.
But our meeting in Midtown Manhattan with Gov. Pataki was uplifting and his foundation is committed to doing great work for New Yorkers. We were surrounded by people who had also lost loved ones, but who have turned their loss into something good: awareness of the meaning of freedom in our country.
When I accepted the award on Sunday afternoon, I realized there was a connection to what I fought for after the loss of my in-laws and the attacks on our country September 11, 2001. It’s the incredible freedom we have here in the United States. States.
That freedom was attacked 21 years ago when the… planes crashed into the buildings in Lower Manhattan — reliving the lives of thousands of Americans, including 343 members of the FDNY.
It was an attack on the American way of life that so many have died for, including the men and women who went to work that day and never came home.
Part of our belief system as Americans is about how much we cherish our freedom. Unfortunately, it has to be constantly defended.
Today I am grateful to live in a country where those freedoms allow us to denounce injustice wherever we see it, even in government. Those rights gave me a voice to fight against COVID-19 Policy in nursing homes after the tragic death of my in-laws. Deaths that exposed not only bad governance but also despicable corruption in New York State.
Freedom is difficult.
Freedom is messy.
But all that is less is oppression.
As Americans, we have a precious right that we can never let go of. Everyone has the right to a voice that deserves to be heard.
And I’m thankful for use my voice on behalf of others who no longer have one.
Thank you Governor Pataki and your foundation for celebrating democracy and freedom on a day when we all needed to hear something positive.
And also thank you for the incredible honor of receiving such an important award and recognition.
I will not forget your kindness and I am grateful to you for remembering the lives we lost on 9/11 and the more than 15,000 precious souls we lost in New York nursing homes.