The lives of 19 NYPD officers, most of whom died from illnesses attributed to Sept. 11 duty, were commemorated Thursday during an evocative Memorial Wall ceremony at police headquarters.
As a solitary violin played in the background, the names of the 19 officers, including Brian Moore and Randolph Holder who died in line-of-duty shootings last year, were read aloud in the lobby of One Police Plaza.
With the new names, the total number of officers and civilians memorialized now stands at 882, officials said.
“To do these ceremonies is never easy,” Commissioner William Bratton told hundreds of family members and officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio. “What we continue to do today, is the memory of the life, a life well lived and life given for others.”
Bratton noted that the 2001 terror attacks continue to take a toll on the health of officers who worked at Ground Zero and at the Staten Island landfill, where debris was sifted to recover human remains. He said 121 officers have died from 9/11 illnesses.
“That day took many lives but we are today continuing the promise that we will always remember, that their lives will never be erased from our memory and the memory of time,” Bratton told the hundreds of family members in the audience.
Those whose Sept. 11-related names are now on the wall include: Deputy Chief Steven J. Bonano, Inspector James Guida, Captain Scott V. Stelmok and sergeants Patrick P. Murphy and Stephen P. Scalza. Detectives memorialized were: James J. Albanese, Luis G. Fernandez, Stuart F. Fishkin, John A. Russo and Richard H. Wentz. Police officers honored with plaques were: James M. Burke, Peter D. Ciaccio, Cheryul D. Johnson, Robert W. Kaminski, Shaun M. Mahoney and Peter O. Rodriguez.
The names of Moore, who died last May 4 after being shot in Queens Village, Det. Randolph Holder, killed in a shooting in upper Manhattan on Oct. 20, 2015, and Det. Joseph G. Lemm, killed in Afghanistan on Dec. 21, 2015, also were added to sections of the wall.
Officials didn’t have a complete list of the counties of residences for the fallen officers. Long Island was home to at least two, Moore of Plainedge and Fishkin of New Hyde Park. Fishkin’s mother-in-law, Emma Sgambati of College Point, said later that he died on May 8, 2015 of pancreatic cancer.Police fraternal groups and unions presented floral displays that were placed in the headquarters lobby.
To underscore why remembrances were important on such a day, Bratton read from a letter written by Union soldier Sullivan Ballou to his wife, Sarah, just before he was killed in the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861 at the age of 32.
“I shall always be near you in the garish days, the darkest nights ... always, always,” wrote Ballou, as read by Bratton.
Bratton also cited a poetic line he read at the funeral of his mother, June Devilla Bratton, who died in 2007.
“Don’t cry because it is over. Smile because it happened,” were the words from the poem attributed to Dr. Seuss.