PUNTA GORDA — Seven people affected firsthand by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks came together recently at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda.

Some already knew each other well, but others were meeting and sharing their experiences for the first time.

All seven had been interviewed for Punta Gorda oral historian/activist Libby Schaefer’s latest compilation of first-person accounts — “Our Brothers’ Keepers: For Those Who Have Forgotten and Those Who Never Knew” — and had come to its launch.

Serge Ruggio, of Port Charlotte, a New York Police Department homicide detective and FBI task force member on 9/11, and then-Senior Sgt. Tommy King, who’d flown in from New York City for the event, had never met before but learned they’d served in the same NYPD precinct, 10 years apart.

Schaefer’s talk, recounting stories about them and many others, often moved a crowd of nearly 150 to tears.

It also became a call to action for congressional renewal of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides health monitoring and financial aid to those suffering from exposure to 9/11 toxins.

The act is due to expire in 2020, though it’s estimated that, by 2025, casualties resulting from 9/11 will surpass those of the first day.

“Our Brothers’ Keepers” is available at Copperfish Books, Books-A-Million, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


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