Westchester County is planning a permanent tribute at Kensico Dam Plaza to residents who have died from 9/11-related illnesses after having worked at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan in the months following the terrorist attacks.
County Executive George Latimer, who made the announcement on Tuesday after the annual 9/11 memorial ceremony, said over the next few months the families of those who have died from illnesses, along with county officials, will be asked for their ideas on what would be an appropriate way to honor those lost during the past 17 years.
“We’re going to find a suitable way to try and recognize them at the site, as well and their families, to recognize the contributions they made because the people who served that day and who served all the rest of the days are Westchester residents who gave their life for us,” Latimer said.
He said whatever form that any monument will take will be coordinated with Westchester’s 9/11 memorial, The Rising, which includes engraved panels on a circular base with the names of all 123 county residents who perished on Sept. 11, 2001. The structure, designed by architect Frederic Schwartz, features steel rods extending from the base and rising toward the sky.
During Tuesday’s ceremony, the names of 15 Westchester residents who have so far been identified as having passed away from 9/11-related illnesses were read following the reading of the names of the victims of the attacks.
Latimer said a challenge for the second memorial is that additional people who are now battling illnesses due to their exposure to toxins at Ground Zero are going to die from their diseases.
“We’re going to work through the specifics of it,” he said. “We know this is the right location for it. We wanted it to be suitable and appropriate and we’re going to have a wide amount of input of what it would look like and work with the families themselves to try and find something that’s appropriate and dignified.”
While there is no deadline for designing and constructing a memorial, Latimer said he hopes there will be consensus on an idea by the end of the year.
Any family that had a relative who died from a 9/11-related illness is encouraged to reach out to county officials to make sure they are accounted for, Latimer said.