License plate sought for 9/11 victims, heroes
Honors for Giants spark complaints of perceived slights
CAPITAL REGION A commemorative license plate and parade for the New York Giants after their Super Bowl win has led some to suggest that military veterans and victims of 9/11 should be getting the same treatment.
Glenville resident Steven Cafiero, whose son, Steven Cafiero Jr., died when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, is calling on the state to create a license plate for the people directly affected by 9/11, the same way it plans to honor the Giants’ win.
“God bless the New York Giants, but that’s yesterday’s news,” Cafiero said. “But the ill-fated day of 9/11 is something we should never forget.”
He argued it was a mistake to honor athletes with a license plate and not “true heroes” such as the first responders on 9/11 and the victims inside the buildings.
“I pray to God that those license plates will be issued as a tribute to our fallen heroes and the heroes who survived that tragic day,” Cafiero said.
Championing this cause is Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, who is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to at least give the victims of 9/11 the same consideration he is giving the Giants.
There is currently legislation in both chambers of the state Legislature to create a 9/11 plate, with Tedisco signed on to the Assembly bill. The current proposal would send the revenue from the sales to the World Trade Center Memorial Scholarship Program.
The bills have been introduced every year since 2005, with none of them reaching a floor vote.
The license plate can only be created with a state law, as a moratorium has been in place since 2004 on the creation of new license plates by the state Department of Motor Vehicles. The new Giants license plate is an exception to the moratorium because it is considered a change to an existing Giants license plate that was created before 2004, according to Jackie McGinnis, a spokeswoman for the DMV.
She said the department gets requests all the time from different organizations asking for vanity license plates and they are advised to contact their legislators to enact a law. McGinnis added that about 300 Giants license plates have been ordered since Monday.
The wiggle room in the moratorium that allows for the Giants plate offends Tedisco.
“If they can find a way around this moratorium to issue a Super Bowl plate … within seven years they should find a way to provide a commemorative license plate for the heroes of 9/11,” he said.
Since speaking out for a 9/11 plate on Thursday, Tedisco said his district office has received numerous calls in support of his position.
Lt. Col. Paul Fanning, a retired public affairs officer for the New York National Guard who served in Afghanistan and lives in Malta, said he thinks the effort by Tedisco is great.
“I’m all for it,” he said. “A vanity plate is a good way to remind the public of what happened.”
Fanning was at ground zero in the aftermath of 9/11 and is now a part-time volunteer tour guide at the memorial for the victims in New York City.
“We need to remember 9/11, and if one of the ways is a vanity plate, then why not?” Fanning said.
In addition to supporting a license plate in remembrance of 9/11, Cafiero is advocating a parade, similar to the one the Giants got in New York City on Tuesday, for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“How come there wasn’t even a ticker-tape parade for the soldiers coming home from the war?” he said. “I was floored. I thought there would be something and there wasn’t.”
Cafiero said the state and New York City had misplaced priorities by honoring something as relatively trivial and temporary as a Super Bowl victory.
“Our soldiers were over there for 10 years,” he said.
Fanning conceded that a parade would be good, but he suggested that it might not be the most pertinent way to recognize military veterans. He said it was important to highlight the achievements of America’s soldiers, saying, “I don’t think a lot of people understand what my friends did.
“I think it is vital that we share those stories,” Fanning added.