The 20th anniversary of September 11 is bringing back painful memories of that horrible day for many Americans, including Steve Buscemi. The actor was a New York City firefighter in the 1980s and returned to volunteer following the attacks on the World Trade Center; he worked 12-hour shifts, searching through the rubble for signs of life but more often found death. As you might imagine, this experience left him shaken.
“I haven’t experienced any health issues, and I get myself checked out. But definitely, yeah, post-traumatic stress? Absolutely,” Buscemi said on WTF with Marc Maron. “I was only there for like five days, but when I stopped going and tried to just live my life again, it was really, really hard.” He added, “There are times when I talk about 9/11 and I’m right back there. I start to get choked up and I realize, ah, this is still a big part of me.”
Buscemi also wrote an essay for Time about the trauma of 9/11:
“Never forget,” everyone said. Some people have no choice. What’s surprising is who has to be reminded. Shortly after the attack, Congress created a Victim Compensation Fund to help first responders cope with the aftermath of the day. When the money began to run out, survivors had to launch a lobbying campaign to secure permanent funding, which finally came in 2019. It was an effort led by Jon Stewart and activist John Feal and backed by every former firefighter who cannot laugh without coughing, and every family member who pretends not to notice.
Never forget, because people are still struggling. People are still dying.
You can listen to Buscemi’s WTF episode below.
— marc maron (@marcmaron) September 9, 2021