Ceasar Borja was invited by Senator Hillary Clinton attend last night's State of the Union address in order to highlight the need for more federal government aid to treatment September 11 workers. Borja's father, NYPD officer Ceasar, who volunteered at Ground Zero in 16 hour shifts, had been been waiting for a lung transplant. But a few hours before the State of the Union, 21 year old Borja found out his father had died while having dinner with other State of the Union guests. The Daily News reports what Borja said to his mother:
"He passed away right when I'm down here fighting for him. This is the most I've ever done for Dad. Mommy, you know I'm strong, Mom. You were with him, though, right? Good. That's all that matters to me. Comfortably and no pain... Dad always knew the man I could become, and I love him for that. Dad didn't go down without a fight, Mom. You know that."
Clinton staffers and other Ground Zero victims and family members comforted Borja, who decided to stay and attend the State of the Union. And Senator Ted Kennedy gave one of his State of the Union seats to a Clinton staffer who was comforting Borja.
Officer Ceasar Borja developed pulmonary fibrosis and had been enrolled in the Mount Sinai program that monitors and treats September 11 workers. Money for that program, as well as the one run by the FDNY, will run out soon; Senator Clinton and other officials have asked for President Bush to approve $1.9 billion in funding. During remarks at a Ground press conference on Monday, son Ceasar Borja said, "9/11 is not over. It didn't end in 2001. My father is an extreme example of what can happen and what may and will happen in the future."