9/11 First Responder Dies Just Weeks After Congressional Testimony

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Posted: Jun 29, 2019 11:00 AM
9/11 First Responder Dies Just Weeks After Congressional Testimony

Source: AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

Former NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez gave a passionate testimony before Congress earlier this month urging lawmakers to restore the 9/11 Compensation Victims Fund, which is set to expire next year. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 53 on Saturday. 

Alvarez was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2016. The illness was reportedly related to the three months he spent searching for survivors and remains at Ground Zero shortly after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center.

“Please remember his words, ‘Please take care of yourselves and each other,’" Alvarez's family said in a statement. "We told him at the end that he had won this battle by the many lives he had touched by sharing his three year battle. He was at peace with that, surrounded by family. Thank you for giving us this time we have had with him, it was a blessing!”

The 9/11 Compensation Victims Fund was put in place to provide health care to first responder heroes like him. During his Capitol Hill testimony, Alvarez regretted that he even had to come to Washington in the first place, because renewing the fund should be a no-brainer.

"You made me come here the day before my 69th round of chemo, and I'm going to make sure that you never forget to take care of the 9/11 responders,'' he said.

Alvarez was accompanied by comedian Jon Stewart, who has been the most vocal and most prominent champion for the first responders. He chastised lawmakers for failing to show up to the hearing, referring to them as an "empty Congress." 

"Sick and dying, they came down here to and speak," Stewart noted. "And no one? Shameful. It's an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution."

Stewart singled out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for failing to rally the troops behind the first responders. McConnell initially defended his agenda against the comedian's charges, but as their feud subsided he met with the FealGood Foundation, a group of first responders, and pledged to hold a vote on the victims' fund.

Alvarez gave his final interview from a hospice bed on June 20, where he pledged to keep fighting for his fellow first responders.

"I'll do whatever I have to do to see my brothers and sisters who aren't covered, get the coverage that they need and the help they need," he said.

Our condolences to the Alvarez family. He was a hero.