The wreckage of the Twin Towers was still smoldering three days after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when Paul Eliacin arrived at Ground Zero on a flatbed pickup truck. A teamster who works on television show sets, Eliacin said he volunteered through his union to provide lighting and clear rubble with firefighters and other first responders.
Twenty years later Eliacin, 66, said his body and mind still feel the impact of the disaster. He takes medication for post-traumatic stress disorder and was diagnosed with chronic upper respiratory inflammation that causes frequent coughing. The latter symptom, he said, has luckily improved in recent years.
Yet, it’s the emotional impact that he will feel on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Speaking about the event from his Harlem apartment, Eliacin struggled to hold back tears.
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