Justin and Jaden Ramos lost their father in the line of duty, but inherited a "family" of officers eager to honor his sacrifice.
At the funeral for slain NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos Saturday, dignitaries including Vice President Joe Biden and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo promised the brothers and their mother, Maritza, that they are not alone in their grief.
"Justin and Jaden, know that although your father is gone, you have inherited an entire family -- the men and women of the New York Police Department will always be there as long as you are alive," Biden told the family at Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, Queens, the church attended by the Ramos family.
Ramos, 40, who was gunned down last week along with his partner, Officer Wenjian Liu, 32, by a killer who targeted cops, was remembered Saturday as a man devoted to his family and faith. The aspiring chaplain enjoyed playing basketball with his sons at Brooklyn's Highland Park, rooting for the Mets and blasting Spanish gospel music from his car.
"It's well known that Officer Ramos loved his family so deeply, and cherished the moments with them," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Afterward, outside the church, Justin, a sophomore at Bowdoin College in Maine, and Jaden, a 13-year-old middle school student, stood beside their mother as she was presented with a folded NYPD flag -- the one that had draped his coffin.
As mourners spilled onto the street to pay their final respects, the youngest son fought back tears, glancing skyward at hovering police helicopters. Justin firmly grasped his mother's hand.
Justin wore his father's blue NYPD jacket when he arrived at the church. A day earlier, at a memorial service, he called his father his "rock" and "absolute best friend."
During Saturday's service, Police Commissioner William Bratton told the family, "The whole department, the whole city, the whole nation is mourning with you. . . . We are your family now."
Jaden's emotional Facebook post, written hours after learning his father had been killed on the job, continued to touch elected leaders, who commended the boy for the post in which he wrote: "It's horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops, but they are the people that they call for help. I will always love you and I will never forget you. RIP Dad."
Said Cuomo: "Despite all the chatter, Jaden found the essential truth -- that police officers are the people you call when you need help and they always show up. Truer words were never spoken."
The mayor also praised Jaden for his tribute.
"We thank you for what you said simply about your dad," de Blasio said. "You said, 'He was the best father I could ask for,' and every child should be so blessed as to be able to say that, and every parent should be so blessed as to be able to hear that from their child."
Biden told the brothers they had "shown tremendous courage and character in these past few days."
"You are your father's sons, and he was so, so very proud of you from everything that I have heard," Biden said. "And just know, as hard as it is to believe, he will be part of your life the entirety of your life."
With Ted Phillips
and Alison Fox