WASHINGTON – A day after his father's death, the grieving son of a Sept. 11 police officer said Wednesday he wants to meet with President Bush to describe his father's sacrifice and the health needs of other sick ground zero workers.
Ceasar Borja Jr. attended the president's State of the Union address on Tuesday night just hours after learning his father had died from lung problems.
"I want a meeting with the president to make the case directly about how important these health programs are," Borja told The Associated Press.
"I want him to hear from me how my father died a hero last night, and there are many heroes that will and are continuing to die because they're not given the proper medical attention or not given enough help from the federal government," said the 21-year-old college student, his voice breaking with emotion.
After getting the awful news that his father had died, the son had insisted on going ahead and attending the president's speech to honor his father and draw attention to the issue of Sept. 11-related health problems.
He had been invited by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., a longtime advocate for Sept. 11 health issues.
"I need to be strong, and I am just doing my best," Borja said. The family was beginning to prepare for a weekend funeral.
His father, 52-year-old Cesar Borja, was a 20-year veteran of the New York police who died Tuesday at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York while awaiting a lung transplant.
The case is the latest to raise concerns about the long-term health threats to thousands of rescue and recovery workers who toiled at the World Trade Center debris pile.