FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 14, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SPEAKS AT FUNERAL SERVICE FOR SANITATION WORKER NELSON DIAZ
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's remarks.
“Thank you, Keith, and good afternoon, everyone – Ada, Nelson, Jr., Omar, Justin. On behalf of the City of New York, I want to extend my deepest condolences on the loss of your husband, father, and grandfather, Nelson Diaz.
“I know that this grief is shared by both of Nelson’s families here today: the Diaz family, and, of course, Nelson’s loving extended family at the Department of Sanitation – especially his friends and colleagues at the Bronx 4 Garage.
“Unfortunately, I never got to meet Nelson. But I have heard a lot about his courage. First, there was the valiant service he performed for our country in Vietnam – earning him a Purple Heart. And then – there was the bravery he showed simply by being a Mets fan who lived most of his life in the Bronx. Now that takes courage.
“I’ve also heard that Nelson had great spirit and a lot of heart. His spirit made him a favorite among his co-workers at the garage, and also with the men and women who lived along his route and looked forward to seeing their friend “Nellie” each and every day.
“And his heart, well, that clearly belonged to his family, starting with his beautiful wife Ada, whom he met working in a law firm back in the early 70s. I’m told Nelson would find excuses to leave the mailroom just so he could hang around her desk. The strategy must have worked because just a month ago, Nelson and Ada celebrated their 32nd Anniversary.
“Nelson also shared a strong bond with his two sons Omar and Nelson Junior. I know that he taught both of you the value of hard work. He was incredibly proud to see that lesson pay off, and also incredibly proud of the men you have become. Nelson also taught his sons how to enjoy life to the fullest: camping, fishing, or even playing a friendly game of stickball. I hear Nelson was pretty serious about stickball, and pretty good at it too.
“Nelson could be tough – after all he was a proud member of ‘New York’s Strongest.’ But he could also be soft, and the softest spot of all he saved for his grandson, Justin. Nelson liked nothing more than playing hide-and-seek with Justin, or even sneaking off to buy him a vanilla cone from the Mr. Softee truck. He loved vanilla ice cream almost as much as Ada’s famous roast chicken and rice.
“Those were the things that made life sweet for Nelson: listening to Tito Puente; playing stickball with the Barrio Boys; spending time with his sons and grandson and feeling such excitement over the new addition to the Diaz family, due in January.
“I know that Nelson’s loss was a sudden one, and that it has left a gaping hole in many lives. But I think we can take comfort in the fact that Nelson died full of hope for what the future would bring his family, and that Nelson lived a life that mattered.
“His service to his country will not be forgotten. Nor will his service to this city. Clean streets are critical to our quality of life, and today, New York’s streets are cleaner today than they’ve been in more than 30 years.
“We could never have accomplished that without men like Nelson. The pride he took in the neighborhoods along his route, in making the streets safe after a snow storm, and in keeping his truck absolutely spotless – not everyone appreciates how much work goes into that – but I do, and I have tremendous respect for the job that Nelson did every single day.
“May God bless the Department of Sanitation; may God bless the City of New York. Que Dios bendiga a Nelson Diaz, y bendiga a su familia en esta hora de dolor. I know this is a difficult time, but on behalf of more than 8 million New Yorkers, I tell you that that you are not alone: Los acompañamos en su sentimiento.”
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958