New York paramedic and firefighter Fabrizio Bivona survived the attack at Ground Zero on September 11 but lost two partners among the many fatalities in the emergency services community.
He doesn’t focus on the gruesome images he saw that day—people clasping hands and jumping from the Twin Towers, their bodies hitting the ground below.
Instead, he concentrates on the heroism of that day: what he calls “the greatest rescue effort in history” and the people who gave their lives for love of country and neighbor.
Bivona continues to live 9/11 through the work he’s done for military charities such as USA Cares, Wounded Warriors and others related to 9/11. He wrote a book honoring the fallen called Gone But Not Forgotten (http://911usahope.com/book.html), which is being turned into a documentary for the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
“9/11 is a very real, very open wound, and it continues to inflict pain on the families, on the survivors,” said Bivona, adding that 15,000 children lost a parent that day.
He plans on attending the 9/11 ceremony Saturday, and he says that for the surviving family members, “You would feel that this is not an issue of nine years ago or get over it.”
Yet he described a media blackout around 9/11—people don’t want to discuss it and the footage is not replayed except around the anniversary.
“This really hurts the families that they’re not even recognized,” Bivona said. “You don’t mind sacrificing, but when your sacrifice is not appreciated in any way because people just want to forget or move on, this has a very deep … impact on survivors, on the families.” Since 9/11, Bivona said he has struggled with his own grieving process.
Bivona, who served on counterterrorism teams “before it was popular,” said America has progressed in many ways in its fight against terrorism—developing the Department of Homeland Security and consolidating other federal agencies.
But he is unhappy with what he calls the “politicization” of homeland security and the misappropriation of resources. Wanting to have impact on the issue, he made an unsuccessful run earlier this year for a U.S. congressional seat.
“I see the frontline to the survival of America—where the front lines have been drawn—is now inside our government,” Bivona said. “For me, I always want to be where the fight is.”
Bivona says he was naïve about the process, including how the system worked and much influence money brought.
“I was naïve to believe that if you had a solid message, if you had a 30-year history of commitment to something other than yourself, that would carry you. And it did, it carried me far. But I got into it a little bit late.”
“My hope is that I don’t really want to be a politician, but that’s where the fight is,” Bivona said, adding that he sees several great candidates this election cycle: GOP Senate candidates Joe Miller in Alaska, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, and Sharron Angle in Nevada.
Bivona said he won’t rule out running in the future, but, “quite frankly, I would prefer that other people who equally had that passion step up, because it really isn’t one of my main ambitions.”
One issue he has worked passionately on is fighting for those ill because of complications from exposure during 9/11 (approximately 2,000 have died of these). He wasn’t pleased that the issue became “a political football” recently with both New York U.S. Representatives Pete King (R) and Anthony Weiner (D) during the last congressional session.
He contends the trend is more politicizing and less productive efforts.
“It’s not even a top priority in this administration’s view,” Bivona said.
He’s also concerned that the current administration doesn’t want to classify terrorists as “jihadists” or “Islamic radicals.”
“If we can’t even identify our enemy, how can you possibly address the threat?” Bivona said.