The photos in this story are those of Damian Battinelli and his wife Kara, the duo that own Cloak and Dagger Productions, a wonderful studio out of far upstate NY. I want to set the stage with this, because Damian is a personal friend of mine and a mentor in Photography.  A while back, he took an amazing series of photos of NY State Trooper Brian Falb. I'll let Damian's own words say it best:

State Trooper and 9/11 first responder, Brian Falb. Brian is the only other person I've met to have been diagnosed with cancer and responded to 9/11. What's crazy is that he's local! I felt alone until Brian. It's unfortunate THIS is what we have in common but, I don't feel so alone anymore. I'm INCREDIBLY proud of Brian. Even though we both were diagnosed with cancer, Brian's fight is still continuing. He's gonna beat this!!! I KNOW it!! Today was the first day he put his uniform on since April 2016. I'm so happy I was able to create some portraits of him and his family. I'm looking forward to creating more portraits in the future! 9/11 first responder cancers and diseases are being diagnosed at an UNBELIEVABLE rate. #9/11firstresponders #firstresponders #groundzero #hero #nystrooper

A post shared by Damian Battinelli (@damianbattinelli) on

The connection that Damian and Brian had is incredible, to have gone through the duty of being a first responder to 9/11, but also to go through cancer. The hopes were high and spirits soaring as the two talked about their connection. Brian's fight was continuing. He had these amazing portraits done, and both Brian and Damian wanted to spread awareness that First Responders were being diagnosed with Cancers and Diseases related to those days at an alarming rate.  

The heroes and victims of those fateful days, were still feeling the effects of it years later.  There are two very important links that everyone needs to look into, and, importantly, this is for everyone, because of where we are, there are most likely First Responders or people who where there on that fateful day:

World Trade Center Health Program

and

September 11th Victim Compensation Fund

Unfortunately, on March 13th, 2017, Brian lost his battle against cancer.  His watch came to an end as a NY State Trooper and the community was gutted, saddened, and stunned that the day to say goodbye was here, so soon, too soon.

And, that is when Brian's wife Mary, asked of something from Damian, who shared the bonds of being a First Responder, a cancer survivor, and a friend.  They wanted him to document Brian's services. If there is any photographer to be able to capture this, it would be Damian.  These photos are a stark reminder that it's too common to see our heroes of 9/11 lose their lives too soon due to illnesses that are linked to their time at Ground Zero.

To the Falb family, your strength to get through these times will be a light to a the world, as the whole world feels your loss.

Damian, thank you for being able to capture the day of remembrance, sadness, and power for the world to see.  

And Brian, rest in peace, your fight was so valiant and you were so strong to watch over everyone for all of those years.

You can read more about this story here: 

http://www.mynbc5.com/article/troopers-son-bids-final-goodbye-to-his-father-with-one-kiss/9163966