Ray Pfeifer and Luis Alvarez’s names are on the federal 9/11 legislation that establishes benefits for first responders. Both men fought to make Congress pass it while they were dying of cancer — and they had another thing in common. In spite of it all, they were content.
“I am the luckiest man alive,” Pfeifer, a former New York City firefighter, told me in 2017, just about two months before he died of cancer linked to his time working in the ruins of the World Trade Center. It was something he said often.
“I love doing this,” retired NYC police Detective Luis Alvarez told me 19 days before he died, the night before he testified to Congress in 2019 with Jon Stewart to help win passage of the legislation that would come to bear his and Pfeifer’s names. Several months earlier, just after his 63rd chemotherapy treatment, he’d