Jon Stewart Remembers an American Hero

Everyone should praise and honor our 9/11 first responders — leave the politics out of it

The heroism of 9/11 first responders is not up for debate. Politics should play no role in honoring the individuals who acted quickly and bravely in the face of a horrendous terror attack that shook our country.

Former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart remembered his friend and firefighter Raymond Pfeifer on Friday. Pfeifer died at the age of 59 in Long Island after an eight-year battle with cancer. He was a New York City firefighter for 27 years who played a role in the rescue efforts after the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

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Pfeifer and Stewart had fought together to keep the Zadroga Act in place, which helps provide health care benefits to 9/11 first responders who have become sick following the 2001 rescue efforts. The two lobbied Congress in 2015 and the act was successfully reauthorized.

“Make no mistake, Ray Pfeifer died in the line of duty, because of illness in the terrible terrorist attacks of 9/11,” the 54-year-old Stewart said when speaking at Pfeifer’s funeral. “But more importantly, Ray Pfeifer lived in the line of duty. Now and forever. That’s what I remember most about him.”

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Stewart recalled a specific influence his friend had on him. When their efforts to reauthorize the Zadroga Act seemed helpless and Stewart and Pfeifer were handed business card after business card by politicians, Pfeifer reassured his friend and gave him a dose of optimism.

“He patted his chest and he reached in and he pulled out prayer cards. Hundreds,” Stewart said of the calm Pfeifer, who held 343 prayer cards for each of the firefighters lost on 9/11. “He said, ‘I got all the cards I need.'”

Stewart showed the mourners that he now carried a prayer card for Pfeifer. “And now Raymond, I got one,” he said tearfully. “And it’s going to teach me how to do right. Thank you.”

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