“ . . . if 9/11 is a tree, it’s got hundreds of ugly branches . . . .”
—John, 9/11 responder
We’re Not Leaving is a compilation of powerful first-person narratives told from the vantage point of World Trade Center disaster workers—police officers, firefighters, construction workers, and other volunteers at the site. While the effects of 9/11 on these everyday heroes and heroines are indelible, and in some cases have been devastating, at the heart of their deeply personal stories—their harrowing escapes from the falling Towers, the egregious environment they worked in for months, the alarming health effects they continue to deal with—is their witness to their personal strength and renewal in the ten years since.
These stories, shared by ordinary people who responded to disaster and devastation in extraordinary ways, remind us of America’s strength and inspire us to recognize and ultimately believe in our shared values of courage, duty, patriotism, self-sacrifice, and devotion, which guide us in dark times.
The narratives featured in this book are part of a larger World Trade Center History Project that has archived more than 200 videotaped responder interviews and will be a permanent collection housed at the Library of Congress. For more information, visit www.911respondersremember.org.
Benjamin Luft, M.D., is the Edmund D. Pellegrino Professor of Medicine at SUNY Stony Brook and an internationally recognized expert in the treatment of Lyme disease and AIDS-related conditions. As a native New Yorker he was deeply impacted by the 9/11 attacks and was inspired to establish the Long Island World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, which provides care to more than 6,000 disaster responders and has become an incubator for several important research and treatment programs that emphasize both mental and physical well-being. Dr. Luft has also established several important projects commemorating 9/11, including the “Remembering 9/11 Responders” oral history program.