After a long campaign, 13 Port Authority civilian
employees who died in the line of duty in the World Trade Center attack will be
honored tomorrow with a national Medal of Valor at a White House ceremony.
The 13 employees will be among the 443 public safety officers being
honored, which includes the 343 members of the FDNY, 23 members of the NYPD and
the 37 Port Authority police officers, which suffered the largest single-day
loss of life of any police force in history.
Speaking of the civilians, Alan Reiss, who in 2001 was the director of the
authority's World Trade Center department, said: "The difference that day is
their regular uniform was a suit."
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens), who lost his cousin, FDNY Battalion Chief John
Moran, led the nearly four-year effort to honor the officers as well as the
civilians who acted as first responders. President George W. Bush signed into
law in December a bill that created 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor.
"They were in serious, serious danger, yet continued to do what they were
doing," Crowley said in an interview. "They all deserve the recognition for
what they did that day."
The Port Authority had to document to the U.S. Justice Department that the
13 had received extensive emergency training and were legitimately eligible for
the medal, said Lillian Valenti, chief of the office of medical services.
"Even though they were civilians, they received a fair amount of
first-responder training," said Tony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority.
Some 1,200 family members of the victims are expected to attend the
ceremony tomorrow afternoon. Each family will receive a gold-plated medallion
and two pins. The ceremony will coincide with the fourth anniversary of the