Shawn Boburg
May 30, 2012

Ten years ago, they left the flattened World Trade Center site exhausted, traumatized, and in some cases, fatally ill.

On Wednesday evening, thousands of first responders and volunteers from North Jersey and elsewhere who sifted through what remained of the Twin Towers returned to the site — this time, to be thanked.

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum marked the 10th anniversary of the official end of the cleanup with a tribute on the 9/11 Memorial Plaza in lower Manhattan.

A decade later, the health and financial effects of the nine-month cleanup and rescue operation are still playing out. As soon as this week, a federal official is expected to rule whether first responders who later developed cancer are entitled to part of a $2.8 billion settlement for ailments caused by the toxins that many inhaled, even as some officials assured the public that the air was safe.

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