The following is an open letter to Senator Hillary Clinton, a woman who I consider an American Hero. I composed this letter with the hope that it might help undecided voters reach a decision. As outlined in the letter, I am Canadian and, therefore, have no personal gain from supporting Senator Clinton in the primaries in America. But, readers will note that meeting Senator Clinton at Ground Zero provided me with much comfort during a terrifying time.
I hope that all who read this letter will give it thought as you decide who you will support in this election:
Dear Senator Clinton:
I have been watching the primaries with great interest and am writing this letter in hopes that it might help your campaign. To introduce myself, I am a Canadian physician who has no voting ability when it comes to American elections. I have absolutely nothing to gain by testifying about your natural ability to lead the U.S. out of darkness.
I met you at Ground Zero on September 12th, 2001. In fact, my medical team of five Canadians literally bumped into you in our haste to make it to Stuyvesant High School where the casualties of the WTC terrorist attacks were accumulating. When I caught my balance amidst the crowd of people, I realized that it was you standing in front of me. I will never forget that moment. You were very composed with only a single secret service agent beside you, completely camouflaged as an ordinary citizen. When my group realized who you were, we stood still. I was speechless and already overwhelmed by the chaos around us. The only words that I could manage to form were: _We are Canadians. We came from Canada to help.
You shook each of our hands and thanked us. The momentum and courage that your simple gesture gave us was very much appreciated.
When I reflect on that week, a flood of memories returns to me. First, unlike any other of your political colleagues at the time, you were walking about, without any lights or cameras, reassuring the people that you represent that you were there to help. You were vulnerable, ready and willing to have anyone approach you in person _ unlike President Bush.
In fact, because the current president is so afraid of getting assassinated _ that is what the police told us on September 15th, 2001 – the medical triage had to shut down for _security reasons_ in preparation for his arrival on Friday, and might I add three whole days after the attacks. At the time, our triage was taking care of between 50 to 70 patients an hour. We had over 200 medical volunteers working around the clock to help. As far as we know, all of our patients were injured volunteers. We would patch up whomever we could and help them get back to the fevered search for potential life.
The stories of injured fire fighters and other rescue workers obsessed about getting stitched up, or having their eyes flushed from the acidic smoke, as quickly as possible in order to continue looking for a loved one, are too numerous to recount. However, when President Bush came to Ground Zero, the Triage was closed down and we all were forced home.
Six years later, you helped me again – though this time not in person. Somehow, I still remain ashamed that I ever got sick after helping. My lungs have never been the same as when I crossed the finish line at the Ironman Canada ultra distance triathlon on August 26th. 2001. Because of you, Senator Clinton, thousands of WTC volunteers have free medical care for their rescue related illnesses. I was absolutely astonished when American volunteers that I still keep in touch with told me that I could also get help despite being a Canadian. To be honest, I refused any assistance for several years. For one, I am not bitter and choose not to define my life by September 11th. Even if I knew that I would get as sick as I have, I would help again. My quality of life compared to many of the great people that I met during that dark week six years ago is actually pretty awesome. I remain grateful for what I have and not bitter about what I do not.
Regardless, from the moment that I met you in person, and from the many moments I have been grateful for your continuing to stand up for the thousands who later became sick and injured from Ground Zero, I have thought of you as a true hero.
California may have the “Terminator,” America has you.
In closing, although the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan make me sick with despair, after what you saw first hand on September 11th, 2001, I don’t blame you for taking the greatest measure available at the time to keep America safe. You did the best you could, with what you had, at the time.
Senator Obama, or any of your rivals for that matter, were never at Ground Zero. How can they truly second-guess your decision?
I look forward to cheering for you all the way to the finish line – when you are sworn in officially as President of the United States.
Dr. Carolyn, BA, MD, CCFP, FRCPC(EM)