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September 11, 2011 10:10 PM

September 11 First Responder Speaks In SF


Hundreds of people in Sioux Falls honored those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. The world has changed since then, including the life of one first responder who is dealing with serious health problems 10 years later.

It was standing room only as more than 500 people raised a salute and others bowed their heads for the victims and heroes of 9/11. But few in the room were directly impacted by that fateful day more than first responder Lieutenant William Dement.

"My first tour was helping the FBI take body parts off the roof. A few hours later, I was trying to prevent other first responders from coming onto the pit after we went from rescue to recovery after we realized not anybody was left alive," Dement said.

As part of the fourth annual Cry Out America 9/11 Remembrance at the Holiday Inn City Centre, the retired New York City Police Lieutenant shared his story of cleaning up after the terrorist attacks.

Ten years later, Dement suffers from a variety of health problems because he responded to Ground Zero, including the World Trade Center cough, pre-cancer in his esophagus, lead and aluminum poisoning.

"I feel like I'm making progress. Sadly though, there were police officers, firemen and other first responders that are dying everyday in New York City from the toxic air they breathed," Dement said.

And while a decade has passed since the attacks, so has the feeling of unity in the country, Dement says. And he hopes that's revived on the 10 year anniversary.

"I think if we get back to the spirit of 9/11, where people volunteer together, they're civil for each other and actually embrace each other," Dement said.

And for Dement, that feeling of compassion and service is the best way America can rebound from the attacks in the long-run.
  • Sioux Falls, SD
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