9/11 was a tragedy of the modern age that exposed the strength and resilience of the nation as a whole. Everyone came together to show their support, lend their hands, and offer their services. However, there is often a party that is overlooked in the portrayal of this event. At EmBe, we hope to highlight the women emergency responders of 9/11.
In the wake of 9/11, many women expected to see news coverage and stories of how New York pulled together to help as many people as possible. However, what they saw were stories of male firefighters and police officers. During the attack, there were over 6,000 female police officers in the NYPD and 100 in the PAPD, 25 female firefighters in the NYFD, and ⅓ of New York City’s EMTs and paramedics were women.
While all first responders of 9/11 were heroes, the women are often overlooked by their male counterparts. Regina Wilson, an NYFD officer at the time, wrote the following about the lack of news coverage, “It was then that I started to really see the lack of people of color or women that were being represented in one of the biggest rescue and recovery efforts in this country. When TV crews highlighted the white male perspective, I thought it did an injustice to the whole rescue and recovery efforts of people who came not only from the city but from across the country. People of color and women contributed to this, whether it was in the fire service, search and rescue, construction workers, or patients. The whole effort took a combined effort of all people with a heart to serve.”
Many women feel it’s unfair to ignore the women’s perspective of this terrible event. Only showing men erases the narrative of women who sacrificed their lives to save others. That being said, these women don’t want to take credit away from the men who served. Brenda Berkman, the first female firefighter of the NYFD, said the following: “None of this is meant to, in any way, take away from the heroism of the men who were down there,” she explained. “It’s simply stating the fact: There were women serving right alongside the men in exactly the same roles putting their lives on the line exactly the same way…Women were part of all of that. And we simply want to have it recognized. They were patriots. They were self-sacrificing, and they were brave, and they were hard-working, and they were taking risks, and they were serving their community. I mean, how inspiring is that? Why wouldn’t you want to tell that story?”
As the years have gone by, the women of 9/11 have received more attention, but still nowhere near the extent that the men have received.
On the anniversary of this terrible event, we want to highlight the women who served with the men to help the thousands of injured people during the attacks. We also stand with all current women emergency workers and first responders. On this tragic day, let us remember the good that these women did.