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Transcript: Mayor De Blasio, Commissioner O'Neill Deliver Remarks at The Police Memorial Wall Ceremony in Battery Park

October 12, 2018

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, Lieutenant. I want to thank everyone who is here because we are here to remember, we are here to honor. And this is one of the important things we do each year, to gather to appreciate those who have served us with such distinction. It is a very solemn task honoring 43 heroes who gave their lives for all the rest of us, not just in this generation but in years past. Who gave their lives to save others, gave their lives to make this city great. To all the family members, I want you to know how much we appreciate you. The sacrifice made by your loved one was deep and abiding, but you too have sacrificed, you too feel to this day a pain that the rest of us will never understand fully but we can still feel a tremendous sense of solidarity and appreciation for you. And we honor you as we honor these heroes as well. I want to thank the leadership of the NYPD, everyone present, Commissioner O’Neill, Chief Monahan, and all the leadership that have done so much for this city. I also want to acknowledge and thank all the union leadership who represent the men and women of the NYPD.

When you go to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C., etched in the white stone of that memorial is a powerful, simple quote. It comes from the Ancient Roman historian Tacitus, and it says simply “in valor, there is hope.” That is true at this memorial as well. Etched in this granite, 904 names of heroes going all the way back to 1849, an unbroken chain of service and sacrifice, and it gives us hope to know that so many good men and women walked among us and set an example for all of us. In remembering them we have to find that hope because that truly honors them. What they did was selfless. What they did was courageous. They ran toward danger. They saved others. Lives of countless families changed for years and generations because one brave soul stood up. And because of everything they did over all those generations we live today in the safest big city in America.

Today we add 43 more names to this pantheon of heroes. 18 lost their lives decades ago, one as far back as 1869, but it is equally important that we honor them. 22 others died from illnesses linked to their service at Ground Zero. Part of the rescue and recovery effort, trying to do all they could to save others and make families whole. And three were taken from us more recently and so painfully. Detective First Grade Miosotis Familia, we came to understand her not only as a great police officer but as the embodiment of the American Dream; a child of immigrants, the first in her family to attend college, a woman who wanted more than anything to be a member of the NYPD. Sergeant Donald Conniff, years ago hit by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day, held on to life for 18 more years before succumbing to his injuries. And finally, a man who lives in legend and every one of us who met him were blessed by that experience: Detective First Grade Steven McDonald, a once in a lifetime messenger of hope, and faith, and reconciliation. Everyone knows his story. What’s so extraordinary is how many he lives he touched, the bravery he showed, the faith that pervaded everything he did. I want to remind you all that what he told us was also about hope, that we could overcome all the challenges of our past. The last conversation I ever had with him I felt blessed to have it. He expressed his faith in the NYPD and the endless ability of this Department to make life better for all New Yorkers and to bring us together. We add their names on this wall – names that epitomize New York’s Finest. People who made us greater, people who made us stronger. People we can only hope to in some small way live as well as they did.

And I say to all of you God bless all of you, the family members, God bless the heroes we lost, and God bless the NYPD.


Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: At least we’re getting a little bit of sunshine here. Got to get the wind to calm down, I’m having a bad hair day.


Don’t laugh, Monahan – you’ve got a hat on. Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for being here. It’s one of the most important ceremonies we hold in the NYPD, because it’s an opportunity, another opportunity for us to celebrate the lives of our dedicated heroes and to renew our promise to their loved ones that we will never forget their service or their sacrifice. Every year we hope this ceremony won’t be necessary and that we won’t need to add another single name to this memorial wall. The reality of our profession is far different. We’re saddened but not surprised given the nature of what we do. So today we’re back here just like we were last year and every year since this memorial was dedicated nearly 21 years ago. And today we add another 43 names of the NYPD to the wall. Each of the 904 names inscribed here represents a unique life lived among family, friends, and colleagues. They are sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives. They came from different backgrounds and cultural traditions. They all have at least one thing in common. Their lives were spent and ultimately ended in service to this great city and the people they cared so deeply about. They knew it was possible that their service could be immortalized on this wall. Every cop knows it, and so do their families. But they swore an oath and served anyway. They knew the risk every time they choose to run towards danger, while everyone else was running away. But they did it anyway. Why? Because that’s what cops do. It’s an enormous responsibility, and police offices bare it with pride, courage and conviction. As difficult as this can be on our loved ones and as painful as their sacrifices truly are – the people of New York City rely on us. The people we serve need us. So this police department will continue to fulfil our commitment to them. And we’ll always fulfill our commitment to you. The families and collogues who carry on tremendous legacies of those we lost – thank you for sharing their remarkable men and women with us and for your courage through extended illnesses and loss.

Today we offer you again our deepest condolences and our solemn pledge to cherish and uphold the memories of your loved ones for all time. Memorials like this can never fill the void left by these brave men and women. But that’s not why we’re here. Instead, this was ensures that we will always remember and perhaps even more importantly it ensures that future generations take the time to learn who these heroes were and what they did for our city and its people. These officers are a part of a rich tradition of service. A police family whose lineage stretches back 173 years and they and you will always be a part of our NYPD family. That’s why we’ll be back here again and again to honor their memories and to uphold their legacies and to celebrate their lives as we continue the essential work of these heroic men and women. They live on in each and every one of us. We’ll work hard every day to live up to the example you and your loved ones have set. I’d like to thank all the men and women wearing a blue uniform that are here this morning. And all of those that have come before us – you have transformed this city. This is a far different city than it was 25 years ago. And it’s that way because of the work that you do, and the work we do with all 8.6 million New Yorkers. So thanks everyone for being here, and like I said I hope we don’t have to come back here again, but I know we will because that’s the nature of what we do.

Thank you very much.


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