"The real key here is that the air was unsafe to breathe. … The government misled people about the quality and safety of the air," said New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Today, thousands of first responders are suing the government, blaming 9/11 for a myriad health problems -- from leukemia to kidney failure.
But for New York's finest and bravest, who are plagued by so many illnesses, the lack of accountability may be the most painful symptom of all.
"I feel betrayed every day. It's no longer a coincidence that [8,000 people to 12,000] people are sick. Unfortunately I was probably one of the first. But … I'm not gonna be the last," Walcott said.
"Every fireman, cop that went down there, nobody thought about your own safety," Ryan said. "That's not what we do. I'm just asking for a little help. A little help getting by every day."