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Steve Buscemi has detailed the brutal truth about his experience at Ground Zero 20 years after the 9/11 terrorist attack.
The Fargo actor, who is a former firefighter, penned an essay for TIME magazine discussing the impact the disaster had on first responders.
"Pulverised concrete and who-knows-what that clogged a face mask, so fast you worked better without one," the 63-year-old described. "Somebody'd say, 'This is probably going to kill us in 20 years.' Well, it didn't take 20 years. Debilitating chronic conditions surfaced before the pile was even cleared. Today more people are thought to have died from toxic exposure at the 9/11 site than died that day."
Despite the layer of dust “thick with carcinogens,” Buscemi admitted he found purpose in aiding with the aftermath of the attack, which killed nearly 3,000 people. However, he explained how the impact of the disaster was hard to talk about, “I was already seeing a therapist, and though it was almost impossible to process the enormity of what had happened ... It's not something first responders usually get. Announcing vulnerability is a hard thing for anyone, but especially for people whose primary identity is as a protector.”
Buscemi mused over the phrase “Never forget,” often used when speaking about the tragedy. He then credited comedian John Stewart for his fight to help first responders in the years since, referencing The Daily Show host’s 2019 effort to secure more congressional funds for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
This weekend, Stewart and Saturday Night Live veteran Pete Davidson, whose father died in the attack, are holding a comedy night to raise funds for 9/11 focused charities. Taking place at New York’s Madison Square Garden, the night will feature comedy giants such as Dave Chappelle, Bill Burr, Amy Schumer, John Mulaney, and Wanda Sykes.