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Fallen officers honored at FOP ceremony in Hicksville

Eighty law enforcement officers who died on duty or due to 9/11-related illnesses were honored Saturday at the New York State Fraternal Order of Police headquarters in Hicksville. The names of the fallen New York officers, etched onto a stone wall outside headquarters, were read off during the ceremony. There are more than 1,300 names on the wall that are commemorated in an annual event, according to New York Fraternal Order of Police president Michael Essig.  Credit: Newsday / Rachel Uda

Eighty law enforcement officers who died on duty or due to 9/11-related illnesses were honored Saturday at the New York State Fraternal Order of Police headquarters in Hicksville.

The names of the fallen New York officers, etched onto a stone wall outside headquarters, were read off during the ceremony. There are more than 1,300 names on the walls that are commemorated in an annual event, according to New York Fraternal Order of Police president Michael Essig. 

The majority of officers honored Saturday died of 9/11-related illness from 2016 to 2018. 

“There’s a common wording we say in law enforcement — all gave some, some gave all,” Essig said to the audience. “This ceremony’s to honor those who gave all.”

The crowd was seated under canopies shielding them from a light drizzle. As the names of their loved ones were called, they were escorted to the wall by NYPD and New York State Police officers and placed red carnations in front of the memorial.

A Nassau County police helicopter flew overhead, and two trumpeters played taps to close the service.

Georgina Valentin, 57, of Hamilton, New Jersey, walked to the wall with her two sons by her side, left a flower in a vase, and read the name of her late husband, NYPD Det. Harry Valentin. 

Harry Valentin was a detective for 30 years and a first responder of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He was a gym rat, a marathoner in perfect health when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma in February 2017, his wife said. He died 15 months later at the age of 58.

“All through this ordeal I felt so alone, but today I felt such camaraderie,” said Georgina Valentin, who was an NYPD detective for 23 years. “It was a beautiful ceremony. I felt very comfortable.”

Krysten Volpe, 29, of Melville, came to honor her uncle, Michael Hance, an NYPD officer and 9/11 first responder who died of brain cancer at age 44 in March 2017. Hance, of Bethpage, was a 17-year veteran of the NYPD who appeared in a viral video dancing in uniform at the New York City Pride Parade in 2015.

Volpe said Hance’s death has been difficult for her family, but that the ceremony helped comfort them, reassuring them that he won’t be forgotten.

“It’s great to know that he was my hero and a bunch of other people’s hero, too,” Volpe said.

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