Kirk to Honor 9/11 First Responders Who Worked at Ground Zero




  Who:                           U.S. Senator Mark Kirk


                                    Arthur Noonan, Chicago Fire Department, Retired

                                     Bob Reside, Springfield Fire Department, Retired

                                     Sgt. Ruben Ramirez, Jr., Chicago Police Department




When/Where:            Sunday, September 11, 2011

                                   Location: Field Museum, South Side Steps

                                 11:50 A.M. – Ceremony honoring first responders who worked at Ground Zero


 What:  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill) will join the Chicago Bears in honoring 130 9/11 first responders who worked at Ground Zero and 20 wounded warriors prior to the season opening game.  The 130 first responders represent 41 fire departments and 4 police departments from throughout Illinois.  


Sen. Kirk will join first responders who worked at Ground Zero and the Chicago Bears in unfurling a flag on the field, which will then be given to Arthur Noonan, a retired Chicago Firefighter, who will accept it on behalf of all Illinois first responders.


Prior to the ceremony, Sen. Kirk will hold a media availability with 3 of the 130first responders to be honored at Soldier Field.  Kirk will thank these individuals, who are representing all Illinois first responders, most who paid their own way to New York City, for their selfless sacrifice to our country during one of its darkest hours.   


Sen. Kirk was at the Pentagon when the first planes struck the World Trade Center and is a leading advocate for first responders and wounded warriors.


Sen. Kirk has also been a longtime supporter of the 9/11 Victims Health Bill.  In one of his very first votes as a Senator, Kirk broke with his party to support the bill, which covers the cost of medical care for rescue workers and others who became sick from toxic fumes, dust and smoke after the attacks.       

Arthur Noonan (Chicago Fire Department) – Mr. Noonan volunteered to help in the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero immediately following 9/11. Noonan, who contracted leukemia in 2004 has been left out of a $625 million settlement to cover the health claims of more than 10,000 workers at the World Trade Center site.  He is among 188 responders and 86 survivors who are living in Illinois and enrolled in the World Trade Center health registry, which tracks the health of the participants.


According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Noonan, a 30-year veteran who retired after his Christmas 2004 cancer diagnosis, said he recalled standing in a line where buckets of debris were removed from Ground Zero to sort for human remains and clothing.


„It was a very sweet smell you will never forget,” he said. „There was a grayish, thick dust – in some places six-inches deep and others just a dusting.”


Noonan and the other volunteers were given respirators, but the filters clogged up after a few minutes. Eventually, they worked without masks or respirators, he said.


New Yorkers appreciated the help from the out-of-town firefighters, Noonan said. One New Yorker plunked $200 on a bar to pay for the Chicago firefighters’ beers after a day at Ground Zero. Their luxury hotel was free. „We were welcomed with open arms,” he said.


Noonan, 64, whose cancer is in remission, said he submitted medical documents to substantiate his illness. A friend told him about the legal settlement, but he wasn’t sure at first about filing a claim.

 „I have never gotten anything for nothing in my life,” he said. „I have always worked two or three jobs. But if there is compensation, I would love to pay off the rest of my doctors’ bills, leave something for my wife and maybe even something for my grandkids.”

 Mr. Noonan plans to wear the boots he used at the WTC site on Sunday to commemorate the fallen first responders and the contributions of Illinois first responders.


  Bob Reside (Springfield Fire Department) – Division Chief Reside volunteered to go to New York immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center to search for survivors and bodies on the pile.  He and 3 other Springfield fire personnel drove to New York (half of this expense paid by their union and half by the 4 personnel themselves).  They assisted New York firefighters with their duties and attended the funerals of fallen first responders.   Division Chief Reside and his colleagues were also personally thanked by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani at one of the funerals they attended for a fallen first responder.


Ruben Ramirez, Jr. (Chicago Police Department) – Sgt. Ramirez and his partner, Sean Martin, were two of the first Chicago Police officers to volunteer to travel to New York after 9/11.  They left Chicago on September 12 and arrived in the city on September 13.  Spending a total of three days at Ground Zero, they worked on the “bucket brigades” clearing rubble and searching for survivors.  Sgt. Ramirez, who works with a special organized crime enforcement team within the Chicago Police Department, credits the DEA training he previously received with teaching him many skills that would later be put to use at Ground Zero.