John Feal gets choked up just thinking about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks ... because 9/11 survivors and first responders are still dying in droves.
John, who lost his foot working as a demolition supervisor at Ground Zero, joined us on "TMZ Live" Tuesday and got emotional thinking about how he'll mark the anniversary come Saturday.
For years now, John's stood shoulder to shoulder with Jon Stewart as they battled with Congress to fund medical benefits for first responders through 2090 -- so naturally, he says he'll take time to remember all the 9/11 victims and also the first responders who continue to die as a result of contaminants they were exposed to in lower Manhattan.
He also knows he'll have to fake a few smiles for TV cameras, but says mostly it will be a lot of hugging and crying.
It's no wonder he's already shedding tears ... John's efforts as an advocate got Congress to pass the WTC 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, and he created one of the first 9/11 responders memorials. Now, he's got a new documentary coming out Thursday on Discovery+, "No Responders Left Behind."
It's an emotional conversation ... and John tells us why he hopes the 20th anniversary brings the country together, if only for a day.