Several members of the FDNY and the family members place blue ribbons on a black railing at the foot of the Last Column.
Photo by Jin S. Lee

Rescue and Recovery Workers

On May 30, 2002, the Last Column, draped in the American flag, was removed from Ground Zero in an honor guard procession to mark the end of the nine-month rescue, recovery, and relief efforts at the World Trade Center site.

Each year, we commemorate the May 30 anniversary through a series of programs and events. If you participated in the rescue, recovery, and relief operation, we encourage you to share your story and view some of our resources below.

Rescue & Recovery Workers Registry

The Rescue & Recovery Workers Registry documents participants in the rescue, recovery, investigation, cleanup, and relief efforts after 9/11 in New York City; Arlington, Virginia; and Somerset County, Pennsylvania. 

Registered individuals are eligible for free admission to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. 

This is separate from the rescue and recovery workers mailing list and is only used for purposes of documentation and sharing your experience.

Rescue & Recovery Workers and Family Mailing List

Photo by Monika Graff

If you are a rescue and recovery worker or a family member of a rescue and recovery worker who died from a 9/11-related illness and would like to receive updates from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum regarding news and events related to this community, please complete this form.

This is separate from the Rescue & Recovery Workers registry and is only used for purposes of communication.

9/11 Memorial Glade

Six stone monoliths border the pathway of the 9/11 Memorial Glade. There are three monoliths on each side of the path. Trees with bright green leaves stand to the left and right and also off in the distance.
Photo by Jin S. Lee

This dedicated space honors the ongoing sacrifice of rescue, recovery, and relief workers, and the survivors and members of the broader lower Manhattan community, who are sick or have died from exposure to hazards and toxins in the aftermath of 9/11.

In Their Own Voices

Three men wearing hard hats, covered in dust, at Ground Zero
Photo by Andrea Booher

On May 30, 2022, we commemorated the 20th anniversary of the end to formal rescue and recovery operations at Ground Zero. Leading up to that milestone, we began an ongoing project compiling short Q&As with members of this community, from city agency workers who spent months on the pile to civilian volunteers, lower Manhattan residents, and everyone in between. Through these interviews, we strive to represent the diversity and scope of the unprecedented efforts at the site of the attacks and the unending impact that has touched thousands of families and individuals. More Q&As will be added regularly going forward. 

Suffolk County detective Phil Alvarez lost his brother Luis, an NYPD detective who spent months at Ground Zero, to 9/11-related cancer.

Salvatore (Sal) Annerino was a district superintendent for the New York City Department of Sanitation on 9/11, then spent the next nine months at the site. 

Dennis Diggins served as Deputy Director at Fresh Kills for the Department of Sanitation during the rescue and recovery efforts.

Bridget Gormley lost her father, firefighter William (Billy) in 2017 from cancer caused by exposure to toxins at Ground Zero. Today she's a filmmaker and advocate for those suffering from 9/11-related illnesses.

Sculptor, welder, and metalworker Rafe Greco met his wife Bianca while working at Ground Zero with the Laborers' International Union of North America, Local 79.  

Father Brian Jordan spent 9/11 blessing bodies at Ground Zero and went on to minister at Ground Zero and deliver Mass there for nearly 10 months. 

Charlie Kaczorowski was with the Department of Design & Construction on September 11; he spent months at Ground Zero helping with rescue and recovery efforts. Kaczorowski died in March 2022.

Dr. Kerry Kelly, who served as the FDNY's Chief Medical Officer on 9/11 and in the years that followed, shares the unique perspectives her role afforded her.

Lila Nordstrom parlayed her experience as a high school student on 9/11 into a life of health care advocacy. 

Anthony Palmieri, a Department of Sanitation worker, was uptown the morning of September 11th and managed to make it home to New Jersey later that day. But it wasn't long before he was back in the city, playing an integral role in the rescue and recovery effort at Ground Zero.

Less than a week before 9/11, veteran and Visionary Network co-founder John Paluska was a rising college freshman in Iowa. Within seven days, he had witnessed the attacks and volunteered as a rescue and recovery worker at Ground Zero, a decision which altered the course of his life. 

NYC Department of Correction officer Philip Rizzo began the day at Riker's Island then finished it - and spent the next few months - heavily involved with the rescue and recovery efforts.  

John Ryan, Port Authority Police Department, has a history with the World Trade Center dating back top 1977. In his Q&A, he talks about realizing the U.S. was under attack, organizing search teams, keeping them safe, recovering bodies, and the bond he feels with the entire rescue and recovery community.

The German Shepherd Atlas was among hundreds of 9/11 canine heroes. 

Nancy Seliga began her 40-year career with the Port Authority in 1969, while the World Trade Center was still under construction. She survived both the 1993 and 2001 attacks, helping tenants and family members in the days and weeks following each of them. 

Rob Serra left the FDNY Training Academy a mere one day before the attacks of 9/11. 

Gary Smiley, an FDNY paramedic, was covering a friend's shift the morning of 9/11. He spent hours trapped under an ambulance, finally digging himself out only to end up in complete kidney failure. 

September 11th ultimately became the first day of Dr. Alison Thompson's full-time humanitarian first responder career. She spent nine months at Ground Zero. 

9/11 Health Resources

Dozens of names are seen up close on the concrete Last Column. The concrete is worn and sprayed with orange paint. A man in a blue uniform and white gloves plays a trumpet in the distance.
Photo by Jin S. Lee

Find links to resources, services, and scientific research about the ongoing health effects related to the 9/11 attacks.

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The Museum is actively acquiring materials for its collection that help illuminate personal experiences during and after September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993.

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A man holds a boy as the two observe an object out of view in Foundation Hall. The two of them are framed by a piece of bent structural beam from the World Trade Center.

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