The NYPD’s John McManus didn’t return home to Northport for about three weeks in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, his daughter recalled Monday.
He was working on the Ground Zero pile, and unknown to him, breathing in airborne toxins that would years later sicken him with Stage 4 metastatic melanoma. The cancer led to his death April 14, 2020, at age 67.
"He wasn’t working that day, but he shot right in from Long Island. It took him, like, 45 minutes, to get there, 'cause there was no one on the road. … He didn’t come home for three weeks. We didn’t see him," said daughter Mary McManus, now 23, wearing a necklace of a miniature police shield her mom gave her last Christmas.
At a ceremony Monday in lower Manhattan, bronze plaques bearing the names of McManus and 27 other NYPD employees were unveiled on the memorial walls of NYPD headquarters. They all died of 9/11-related illnesses, said Sgt. Carlos Nieves, a department spokesman.
"The toll that day — 23 members of the New York City Police Department, has now been far surpassed, growing past 290 since that day that have made the ultimate sacrifice," Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. "And tragically, that number... will continue to grow."
At the 2019 ceremony, in May of that year, then-commissioner James O'Neill said that the number of those who had died of 9/11-related ailments was about 200.
Until the unveiling, purple and black cloth covered the plaques on the lobby walls with the names of those who died in the line of duty dating back to the department’s beginnings in the 19th century.
The most recent names added include McManus, who was an assistant chief; a deputy chief; an inspector; a lieutenant; four sergeants; six detectives; 11 police officers; two patrolmen; and an auto-body worker.
McManus said her dad was in the pit, helped send out helicopters and other duties. "He didn’t talk much about it," she said, "and when he did, it was small details."
She remembered how her dad, a Queens native who moved out to Long Island when she was 1, would coach her and her twin brother in soccer. After the elder McManus retired from the NYPD, he became security director of Roosevelt Island, and there is a field there named in his memory.
Mary McManus was in preschool when her dad left for Manhattan the day of the attacks, she said after the ceremony.
On Monday, the McManus family took photos of the plaque bearing John McManus' name, as did families of the others who were memorialized.
A short time earlier, Shea noted that during his commute into Manhattan he passed where the Twin Towers once stood.
"It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years," he said, adding: "Soon, but not yet, soon, we’ll be graduating police officers out of our academy that weren’t alive on Sept. 11, 2001."