Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner O’Neill Deliver Remarks at the NYPD Police Memorial Day Ceremony
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. Everyone, when we see those floral tributes I think it’s one of those moments that brings home the greatness of this city and the greatness of this department. The fact that people of every background all joined together in common cause to honor those we mourn today and I’ve been to these ceremonies many times but every time I see that line of floral tributes it reminds me of something powerful and why this department achieves so much, and why the bond is so strong, and why members of the NYPD are so proud, everyone standing up for each other.
Today we gather with sorrow but also with pride to remember. We gather with the families of loved ones of those we lost but we gather with all the men and women of the NYPD because this is an extended family by any measure. Today we add 47 names to the memorial wall. It’s a lasting tribute. It’s a tribute to people who made a noble choice to serve, who were willing to take on the challenge, take on the danger, because that was the measure of them. They made that choice and we never can forget what they sacrificed, we can never forget who they were and their decision to do something that so few can do. I want to thank everyone for being here. I want to thank of course Commissioner O’Neill and all the leadership of the NYPD. I want to thank the union leadership that are here today. I want to thank the Chair of the Public Safety Committee in the City of Council, Councilman Donavan Richards for joining us.
This day is something very powerful because it connects us to all the generations of NYPD officers. This memorial wall creates a seamless chain all the way back 1849. It doesn’t matter which generations, which year, everyone in common was a hero. Every in common chose to serve this city and its people. After today there will be 1,008 names on this wall and each one of them confronted a moment of danger and chose to run toward it. Each one of them did something extraordinary. Each one of them gave what President Abraham Lincoln called the last full measure of devotion and today we honor them and we honor those we have lost today, all who were there at one of our toughest days, maybe our very toughest day in the history of this city just less than a mile from here. And we all remember that morning, a day that seemed full of promise, that bright blue sky, and a day that we all thought would be normal and then it was clouded over suddenly by an act of terror. And we remember that those terrorists tried to lay us low, they tried to intimidate this city and its people, but New Yorkers would not be intimidated.
The NYPD stood firm. All of our first responders stood firm. The nation watched, the world watched the greatest act of terror to ever befall this nation and what the world saw was courage in the face of evil. Strength and unity resolve and all we honor today were part of that moment, they gave their all, each and every one a hero. There’s two I would like to mention, Chief of Detectives William Allee, who helped coordinate recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Who let a team that identified victims, he knew that so many families were seeking closure and seeking peace, and he took the lead and brought that comfort to countless families. And now we have lost him as well.
I also want to mention Office Marie Patterson-Bohanan, there at Ground Zero, and she served this Department for 20 years and went above and beyond served her community as a pastor. And so many times when we lose a member of the NYPD, we then get to reflect on the service they gave to others, not just the hours in the day when they were in the uniform but throughout their lives in every way. Those we honor today paid a price for their heroism that day, that price was a horrible illness. But each of them lived with dignity and strength, and they embodied the NYPD’s motto, “Faithful unto Death.”
In total, the Memorial Wall honors 224 uniformed NYPD members who fell as a result of 9/11. I want to say to all the family members – we know, all of us here, we know the pain never goes away. But we need you to know, and we want you to know that the NYPD and the City of New York will always be with you. That is an eternal bond. We will always be by your side, and we will never forget the sacrifice of your loved ones. On behalf of 8.6 million grateful New Yorkers, we say thank you, and we say God bless you to all of you.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill: Thank you, Tony. Welcome everyone. Thank you, thank you for being here. Welcome to One Police Plaza, and to one of the most important events we have in the New York City Police Department. Today, we add another 47 names to our Hall of Heroes. 47 lives spent serving others – each name a person who cared deeply about our city, and everyone in it. From police officer to chief, these lives represent us, the nation’s largest and greatest police department. They represent something else too: the very real risk cops face every time they put on their uniforms and go to work. We all knew the risks when we took this job; we understand them, so did our families and loved ones. But that doesn’t make today any less painful, and no day is more important, because every name in this hall is a constant reminder that even in the safest large city in the world there are still those who wish to do us harm.
These names are also a reminder that the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, has not ended for us, for our families, or for our great city. We lost so much that day and it’s not over. Lower Manhattan may be rebuilt, and the World Trade Center site may again be a tourist attraction, but the names in this hall tell us, every day, that we can never take what we have for granted. Because we know that we’ll all be back here next year, and the year after that, and on and on, filling up those walls as our losses from September 11th continue to mount, and our police families continue to pay the highest price.
It’s so important that we do come together in this hall, and I’m not just talking about unveiling plaques. Know that no plaque, no memorial, no ceremony will ever fill the void left by these brave men and women but that’s not why we come back. We come back to make sure that we never forget, because every time someone looks up and reads these names it’s another opportunity for us to tell their heroic stories and to continue their remarkable legacies. It’s a tremendous responsibility, and it’s one we bear with great pride. We vow to never forget our fallen Finest, we promise to never forget their families, as we return time and again to honor them, and to remember everything they did for us, because nothing we do as police family is more important. So thank you, everyone, again for being here and thank you to every member of this Police Department, you make us all proud to be part of the NYPD.
As always, watch out for each other, please stay safe. Thank you very much.