FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SPEAKS AT FUNERAL SERVICE FOR PROBATIONARY FIREFIGHTER JAMEL M. SEARS
The following are Mayor Bloomberg's remarks as delivered:
"Sherita, Mahlek, Jya, and Jonnie, Commissioner Scoppetta, members of the FDNY, especially the members of Jamel's class at the Fire Academy: you've lost one of your own - and so has this City.
"A guy from the Bronx who served his nation, who married his best friend and teenage sweetheart and was headed for a great career in a job he always wanted. I sadly never got the chance to meet Jamel Sears - but from everything I've heard it's clear that this was a man destined to serve others. Service, as a matter of fact, was in his blood: his mother, Jonnie, has worked for the New York City Housing Authority for two decades His wife, Sherita, was a member of the Correction Department, and now is an officer in the NYPD. And before joining the FDNY, Jamel himself defended our country aboard the USS Alaska, one of the biggest, most powerful submarines in the Navy.
"The Fire Department was the perfect next step - a place where he would really shine. But what stood out about Jamel wasn't lightning speed, it wasn't superhuman strength. It was an incredible commitment to become the best firefighter possible. This was a guy who everybody tells me would be the first in the gym every morning, a guy who wouldn't hesitate to grab the instructors for some extra help for an upcoming test. People say he loved the challenge. He was always pushing himself to be quicker, stronger, sharper - and he always had the belief that he could be.
"Last month, the class was assigned to spend a week at one of the engine companies around the City. Jamel - who was sent to Engine 218 in Bushwick - soaked up everything about the experience like a sponge. Flip through the journal he kept and you'll find every page scribbled with notes about the emergency runs he went on, like the senior citizen who fell in his bathroom, or the kitchen fire started by food left on a stove. Other pages were filled with artwork and other mementos from his time at the house. He enjoyed it so much that at the end of the week, Jamel told his instructors at the Academy that he hoped one day to be assigned permanently to Engine 218. It was this kind of drive and enthusiasm which made him, as one of his drill instructors remembered, 'the perfect probie.'
"Service was in Jamel's heart - but I'm told there was a lot more to him than that.
He was a regular guy who loved to play NBA Live on his Sony PlayStation with his friends for hours and hours on end. He was a great family man who took Sherita and the kids to Disneyworld or the beach at Ocean City, Maryland. He had a great sense of humor - always quick to come up with a funny line. He was the one who'd quietly crack a joke during roll call and then keep a straight face while everyone around him broke out in laughter.
"He could do a perfect impression of all four drill sergeants at the Academy. This was apparently a piece of information the probies shrewdly kept to themselves until just this week. He was also a huge fan of the New York Knicks - which in recent years has definitely required a sense of humor!
"Unfortunately, we will never know what kind of career Jamel would have had in the Fire Department, but we will always know what kind of man he was. Compassionate. Dedicated. Fearless. And besides, as Chief of Department Edward Croker said a century ago: 'When a man becomes a fireman, his greatest act of bravery has already been accomplished.'
"Jonnie: I'm a parent, as well. And as I told you at the hospital the other day, I can only imagine the pain you must be feeling. Together, you and your family have given years of service and dedication to the City of New York - and now you've given your blood, your own son. But while I hope you find comfort in the fact that while Jamel's life was short, the impact he's had on his friends and family and colleagues is something that will last forever.
"Sherita: My heart goes out to you. You and your children will face some tremendous challenges in the weeks, months, and years to come. But I want you to know that when Jamel joined the FDNY, he joined a family that always takes care of its own. And we'll be there for you every step of the way.
"To your two children: Your dad really loved you, Mahlek and Jya. You both should be very proud; He represented the best of New York. As you work hard in school, play with your friends, and achieve your dreams - as I know you'll do - you'll be fulfilling your father's dreams, too. That is what he wanted for you. And it'll be up to you to write the next entry in your father's journal - by living a life full of integrity and happiness.
"Today, we grieve with all of you. But we take comfort in knowing that Jamel is in the best place of all. And you can be sure that if the Knicks do make the playoffs this year, they'll have a special fan rooting for them in the skybox in the sky. May God bless Jamel's memory. And may God continue to bless and protect the FDNY and New York City. Thank you for everything your family does."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958