Jon Stewart cries as he’s awarded firefighter's jacket worn during 9/11
Comedian Jon Stewart was awarded a firefighter's coat worn by late 9/11 hero, Ray Pfeifer, to thank him for his contributions to the Victim Compensation Fund.
Following the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, around 80,000 people - including firefighters, police officers and emergency workers - rushed to the aid of victims. However, in doing so, they were exposed to toxic debris.
The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was thus created to provide free medical care for the first responders until 2020, but Stewart made an appearance at the House Judiciary Committee yesterday to advocate for the need to reauthorize the fund through till October 1, 2090
The erstwhile Daily Show host spoke in front of just four subcommittee members, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler. The subcommittee is made up of 14 members, several of whom arrived after his speech.
Expressing frustration at the poor turnout, Stewart asserted:
"Behind me a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country and a stain on this institution and you should be ashamed of yourselves, for those who aren’t here, but you won’t be because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber."
First responders who attended the Congressional hearing then proceeded to gift Stewart with the coat to thank him for his continued support.
Watch Stewart break down in tears at the incredible gesture:
Ray Pfeifer served more than 27 years with the FDNY, and spent months at Ground Zero helping with the recovery effort. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, and continued to lobby at Capitol Hill for lawmakers to pass 9/11 health and compensation bills. The firefighter met Stewart in 2015, and the pair remained friends until his death, in 2017.
Pfeifer's coat was won at an auction by John Feal, a supporter of causes that help 9/11 first responders. And yesterday, retired firefighter, Kenny Specht, gave a speech explaining how Feal outbid three people in order to win the jacket, and present it to Stewart.
I believe everyone here in this hallway have learned brotherhood and camaraderie because we all have one mission," he said. "We appreciate your help Jon, and this comes from John, and this comes from everybody in this hallway."
Stewart broke down in tears after receiving the jacket. "I don’t deserve this. But I will treasure it, like I treasured Ray and our friendship. And all of you," he replied. "And we’re going to do it today. Not just for Ray. But for all you guys and the people he was fighting for."
Per the BBC, as of September 2019, 2,000 deaths have been attributed to the terror attack.