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Smithtown Central School District
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Retired FDNY firefighter talks 9/11 at High School East & West

September 20, 2023

"I’m still fortunate to have today because there’s so many that don’t."

Retired FDNY firefighter Michael O'Connell was at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001.

On Wednesday morning, Mr. O'Connell visited High School East and High School West to discuss his experiences that day as well as his work getting the Zadroga Act passed with actor, host, and activist, Jon Stewart.

O’Connell has made it his mission to push for continued healthcare and compensation for the 9/11 community. He had been a member of the FDNY for only four months when the 911 attacks occurred. In 2007 he was diagnosed with sarcoidosis from his time working at Ground Zero. Sarcoidosis is an auto-immune disease that can cause tissue to swell painfully.

Today Mr. O'Connell spoke with high school juniors about his work to ensure that first responders and others now fighting illnesses due to time spent near Ground Zero get adequate health care and compensation.

Firefighter O'Connell speaking

Firefighter O'Connell speaking

Firefighter O'Connell speaking

Firefighter O'Connell speaking