Seeking son's honor for 9/11 first response

Mohammad Salman Hamdani, 23, a New York City

Mohammad Salman Hamdani, 23, a New York City Police Department cadet who died on Sept. 11, 2001, is listed in a panel on the south tower pool for civilian victims. (Credit: Handout)

Talat Hamdani wants her son's sacrifice fully acknowledged.

Mohammad Salman Hamdani, 23, a New York City Police Department cadet who died on Sept. 11, 2001, is not listed with official first responders at the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero.

Instead, he's listed in a panel on the south tower pool for civilian victims.


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For his mother, a substitute high school English teacher who lives in Lake Grove, it's one more fight to get her son's role as a hero fully recognized.

"Why is it so difficult to acknowledge his sacrifice?" she said.

On 9/11, Hamdani, in his final year as a police cadet and trained as an emergency medical technician, was on his way to his job at Rockefeller University when he saw the towers attacked and went to help, his mother said. His remains were found in the north tower.

But in the days after the attacks, the family, who emigrated from Pakistan to Brooklyn when he was 13 months old, had to defend his memory against accusations that, as a Muslim, he was linked to the 9/11 terrorists.

That charge was finally put to rest at his funeral in 2002 when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other dignitaries lauded his bravery. Last March, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) honored the cadet at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing.

But under the system set up by the 9/11 Memorial, first responders were defined as those who had received the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor given by President George W. Bush in September 2005.

Joseph Daniels, president of the memorial, said that despite Hamdani's valor, he did not meet that criterion. And he took issue with the idea that "any one placement [at the memorial] is better than another."

"It's a beautiful story," he said of Hamdani's life and sacrifice. "But his name is where it is."

The NYPD did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Habeeb Ahmed, chairman of the board of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, said "the situation should be corrected."

"I don't understand their rationale," he said. "It's already established that he went there to help people."

Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights) and Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) said they were looking into the issue. "To me, he is a first responder," Ackerman said. "It's as simple as that."

His mother said she will not stop trying to get him listed with other official first responders.

"This is my son's legacy," she said. "I'm not going to let it go."

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