NYPD Commissioner William Bratton
Every time I attend a cop’s funeral, I pray that it will be the last.
But I know it won’t.
As I watch the casket carried past all those salutes, I wish it weren’t real.
But it is.
And as I look into the faces of the loved ones left behind—whose worst fear has been so suddenly realized—I silently hope, “never again.”
But here we are.
My first police funeral was forty-four years ago.
On September 24, 1970, Boston Police Department Patrolman Walter Schroeder was ambushed by a violent group of anti-war extremists, shot in the back as he responded to a bank holdup.
In 1970, Boston, like America, was a tumultuous place: – protests for civil rights
* anti-war demonstrations
* anti-government demonstrations
* anti-police demonstrations
Divisive politics polarized the city and the country.
Maybe that sounds familiar.
The murder of Officer Schroeder shook the foundations of City Hall and the Boston Police Department.
It sowed doubt and fear among officers and citizens alike.
We mourned, we vowed never to forget, and we moved forward.
And here we are.
Here we are to celebrate the life of Police Officer Rafael Ramos, and to honor him.
To memorialize the sacrifice he made with his partner that day—with his partner for all time— Officer Wenjian Liu.
Here we are to remember.
We remember what it means to take “the Job.”
No other profession will give you as much, or sometimes, take as much.
The Job can reward you like no other, but one day it might demand from you everything in return.
For the Ramos family, today is that day. And here we are.
We’re in a city struggling to define itself, where people are searching for what they stand for and why, where people claim to know best what it’s like to be everybody else.
But WE know who we are, because we know who Rafael Ramos was. He was a father, a son, a brother, and a husband.
He was a New Yorker.
He was a New York City Police Officer.
And he was—he is—a hero.
His sister, Sindy, told me that because his dad died when he was an infant, he took on the father-figure role for the family as he grew.
Cops who served with him said you could see that in the way he worked.
Justin, Jayden—you got the chance to know your dad, the way he didn’t get to know his. You got to learn from him, the way he taught others.
Your aunt said your dad knew a little bit of everything, and he was willing to let you know it.
Your mom said he was the type of man who, if he set his mind on something, he went for it and did it.
Other cops said the same thing: he came on the Job older, a family man, street smart. He knew how to handle people, and the younger guys looked up to him.
He never shirked a task and he never complained.
You should be so proud of him, as we all are.
But over the last week, you’ve seen that the memorials and this funeral have been about more than just your dad.
I know how strange it is...
So comforting on the one hand, to have the whole Department in mourning with you, to feel that solidarity, to know that we will never let you be alone again, that we are YOUR family now, just as we were your dad’s.
But a burden, too, having something so private for you be so public at the same time. Because here we are.
We’re here because your dad was assassinated.
That’s a different word than murdered, which is awful enough.
It speaks of the prominence of the person killed; it makes the crime intentional and symbolic. Your dad was assassinated because he represented something—and that’s true, he did.
He represented the men and women of the New York City Police Department.
He was the embodiment of our motto: “fidelis ad mortem,” “faithful unto death.”
He represented the blue thread that holds our city together when disorder might pull it apart.
He represented the public safety that is the foundation of our democracy.
He represented the best of our values—as anyone can see by looking at you, and at your family. But he was also your dad.
A good man, who tried hard, and sacrificed, and had a desire to serve.
When DHL closed one employment door, that desire led him to a new door with our School Safety Division—where he was assigned to the Rocco Laurie Intermediate School, named for another officer slain with his partner, Gregory Foster, nearly 43 years ago.
Like Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, these officers were killed for their color—they were killed because they were blue.
And that desire to serve led him to enter the Police Academy at 37 years of age.
Your mom said he’d come home pretty tired, competing with all those younger recruits.
But he passed with flying colors, wearing the gold braid for being in the top of his class.
No small feat.
And that desire to serve led him to study to be a chaplain.
And I’m privileged to be able to tell you that today I’m making him a Department chaplain—a posthumous member of that family within our family, that ministers to us in time of need.
Rafael Ramos was assassinated because he represented all of us. Even though, beneath the uniform, he was just a good man.
And he was just your dad.
And maybe that’s our challenge...
Maybe that’s the reason for the struggle we’re now in—as a city, as a nation...
Maybe it’s because we’ve ALL come to see only what we represent, instead of who we are.
We don’t SEE each other.
The police, the people who are angry at the police, the people who support us but want us to be better, even a madman who assassinated two men because all he could see was two uniforms, even though they were so much more.
We don’t SEE each other. If we can...
If we can learn to SEE each other... to see that our cops are people like Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, to see that our communities are filled with people just like them too...
If we can learn to SEE each other, then WHEN we see each other, we’ll heal. We’ll heal as a Department.
We’ll heal as a city.
We’ll heal as a country.
But as Ecclesiastes teaches, there is a time to every purpose under the Heavens.
Today, it is time for us to mourn Rafael Ramos.
Today, it is time for us to remember Rafael Ramos.
And in a few days, we’ll be here again, in a different place that is the same, to celebrate the life of Officer Wenjian Liu.
That will be a time for sadness, too.
But someday the tears will end.
The memories will not.
We never have and we never will forget.
Last Sunday at Saint Patrick’s, Cardinal Dolan spoke to the police.
His cathedral thundered with prayer, he said.
And he asked me to tell my officers “we love them very much, we mourn with them, we need them, we respect them and we’re proud of them and we thank them.”
I’m proud of them, too.
And prouder of none more than Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, both of whom I promote today to Detective First Grade.
Please let us rise and applaud the lives of Detective First Grade Rafael Ramos and Detective First Grade Wenjian Liu, so they can hear us in heaven.
Maritza, Justin, Jayden, Julia, Sindy: here we are, today, surrounded by a sea of blue. Our family will always be with yours. We don’t forget.
WE. ARE. HERE.
For you, and for this city.
God bless the New York City Police Department.
And God bless you, and God bless Rafael.
In life he guarded the streets of this city; in death, he guards the heavenly gates.
Grant him rest.
Grant him peace.
Vice President Joe Biden
Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Bratton, Pastor, thank you for allowing me to be here today and according me the privilege of expressing the condolences of Jill and my whole family to the Ramos family. What handsome boys.
I remember a similar occasion a long time ago. And, Mom, I assure you those boys will get you through all of this.
I’m sure I speak for the whole nation, Maritza, when I say to you that our hearts ache for you. I know from personal experience that there is little anyone can say or do at this moment to ease the pain, that sense of loss, that sense of loneliness.
But I do hope you take some solace from the fact that as reported by the press there’s over 25,000 members of the same fraternity and sorority as your husband who stand and will stand with you the rest of your life -- and they will. It’s an uncommon fraternity.
Justin, and Jayden, you’ve 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. And just know, as hard as it is to believe, he will be part of your life the entirety of your life.
Mom, no child should predecease a parent. My heart aches for you.
And, Maritza, I know from experience there are no words that I can offer to ease that profound sense of loneliness and loss you’re feeling right now.
But I also know from experience that the time will come -- the time will come when Rafael’s memory will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes. That’s when you know it’s going to be okay. I know it’s hard to believe it will happen, but I promise you it will happen. And my prayer for you is it will come sooner rather than later.
There’s a headstone in Ireland that reads:
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal.
Love leaves a memory that no one can steal.
Just sitting here for a few moments looking at the screens, no one had to know your husband to not know how desperately he cared about his family, how close he was to all of you.
I didn’t know your husband and I didn't know his partner, who were keeping watch at Myrtle and Tompkins Avenue on that terrible afternoon, but I do know why they were there. They were there to protect and defend, as they always are. Sometimes fearful, but always watchful.
I knew them. They’re the guy I grew up with in Scranton and Claymont, Delaware, the boy with the most courage and the most compassion; the man with a brave heart and a generous soul; a brother who always looked out for his sister; a father whose words were always encouraging to you boys with a touch that could soothe away the fear; and a son who made his mother proud every time he turned and smiled at her; and a husband with a gentle hand who could soothe away the concerns, who you knew would always be there.
A former school safety officer, who became a cop at age 37; an active member of his church, studying to become a chaplain; a father, a husband, a son; a seven-year veteran on the force. A son of a Chinese immigrant, his partner, conversant in several dialects; a newlywed. Both -- confident, committed, passionate and vigilant.
Being a cop was not what they did, it was who they were; like every man and woman in uniform here today. It’s who you are. And they like every one of you in uniform inside this church and outside, you all joined for essentially the same reason. There was something about you that made you think you could help, that you should serve, that you had a duty.
I have spoken at too many funerals for too many peace officers, too many funerals for brave women and men who kept us safe and watched their families grieve. And I’ve observed one thing that unfortunately, it’s only when a tragedy like this occurs that all their friends, neighbors, and people who didn't even know them become of aware of and reminded of the sacrifices they make every single, solitary day to make our lives better.
Today we pay tribute to Officer Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. We pay tribute to their families. Because every day when a police officer pins on that shield and walks out the door, the officer’s wife, husband, mother, father, brother, sister, children -- they know anything could happen. The fear of that call at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, the relief of hearing the voice of the door opened, says, I’m home.
There’s a line from the English poet, John Milton. He said, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of American families stand and wait so their husbands and wives, fathers and sons can serve the rest of us. Police officers and police families are a different breed –- thank God for them. Thank God for them.
And your husband, Maritza, and his partner, they were a part of New York’s Finest. And that's not an idle phrase. This is probably the finest police department in the world -- the finest police department in the world. They earn that praise.
It’s a sacred trust they took on when they kiss their children’s forehead as they sleep, and head out on a night shift to watch over all of the children of this great city, treating and protecting each of them as if they were their own.
When you patrol the streets of New York, you circle the Earth; a six-story walk-up, apartment towers, aromas of a million kitchens continuing thousands of traditions; streets full of silence, streets bursting with hundreds languages -– whispering. Laughing. Shouting.
An intimidating city. A city of others. A city of labels and borders and seemingly unbridgeable gaps, a city constantly grappling with issues as old as the nation and as new as the morning headlines.
Yet in every neighborhood in this great city, this most alive of all cities, this chaotic miracle stands as a beacon to the world in no small part because of the sacrifices that the New York Police Department makes every single day.
So when an assassin’s bullet targeted two officers, it targeted this city and it touched the soul of the entire nation -- a city where the son of a Chinese immigrant shared a patrol with a Hispanic minister in training; a city where a single ride on a subway brings you into contact with more people, more lives than many people in this country will encounter in an entire lifetime; a city that educated a young college student with a mother from Kansas, and a father from Kenya who would one day stand before the nation and declare: This is not a black America or a white America or a Latino America or an Asian America; this is the United States of America.
And for those of us who are not New Yorkers, we look at you in awe because this is the united city of New York as well; a city that rose as one to confront two of the greatest disasters of this century -- one from the evils of terrorism on 9/11 and one from the fury of nature in Superstorm Sandy.
This is a city of courage and character, having faced and overcome the toughest challenges and I’m absolutely confident as you are that spirit is still alive and well in this city. And I’m absolutely confident it will guide you in the days and weeks ahead.
I believe that this great police force, and this incredibly diverse city can and will show the nation how to bridge any divide. You’ve done it before. And you will do it again. Because, to paraphrase the words of William Allen White, you are not afraid of tomorrow, because you’ve seen yesterday and because you love today.
To the Ramos family, we were all lucky to have Rafael. He didn’t just have a bible in his locker, he lived it in his heart. He was a cop for all the right reasons.
Mom, we owe you for nurturing him. And, Maritza, we owe you for supporting him. And, Justin and Jayden, 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. They never -- they never -- never forget.
There’s a communion hymn in my church that has a stanza that goes like this:
May he raise you up on eagle’s wings
And bear you on the breath of dawn.
And make the sun to shine on you.
That’s what your father wished for, for both you boys. That's what your father wished for, for this city. And it will happen.
May God bless your family and the family of his partner and may God protect the 84th Precinct and every police officer throughout this great country and keep them safe while they stand on watch for us. God bless you all.
Mayor Bill de Blasio
Pastor Durso – to you and to your father, Pastor Durso – thank you for this extraordinary congregation, which has meant so much to the Ramos family. And thank you for the love here today.
Vice President, it is so important to the people of New York City, and to the Ramos family, and so many others, that you're here. Thank you for helping us to heal at this painful moment.
Governor, senator, commissioner – thank you all.
Our hearts are aching today. We feel it physically. We feel it deeply. New York City has lost a hero – a remarkable man because of the depths of his commitment to all around him.
On behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers – on behalf of all of us – I extend my condolences, to Maritza, to Justin and Jaden, to Julia, to Cindy; to the entire family, the wonderful, beautiful extended family that we've all come to know in these days; and to all their friends, all who loved them.
I extend my condolences to another family – the family of the NYPD that is hurting so deeply right now, men and women feeling this loss so personally, so deeply, as their families feel the loss as well.
And I want to thank the officers, the law enforcement officers from all over this nation, who have come her to honor Officer Ramos. I especially want to thank the family of Officer Liu – who are here in solidarity, and in shared grief – two families we will remember together always.
All of this city is grieving. And grieving for so many reasons, but the most personal is that we've lost such a good man, and a family is in such pain.
Officer Rafael Ramos was a man so filled with commitment, faith, belief. You can see in his family. You can see what kind of parent he was, what kind of husband he was, what kind of son he was – what it meant to his family. Because a family so strong is a result of that kind of love and commitment.
To Maritza, the love of his life and the partner in all things – we honor you. We honor his two sons, who he adored. Justin, we thank you for feeling the same calling to public service that motivated your father. Jaden, we thank you for what you've already said to this world, even at your young age – and it meant so much to so many people, and we thank you for what you said simply about your dad. 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.
It's well known that Officer Ramos loved this family so deeply, and cherished the moments with them, and yes – they are Mets fans. God bless them. And he loved playing basketball with his sons in Highland Park. He loved blasting Spanish gospel music from his car. He lived life so deeply.
This family has shown us so much in these last days, and has given us so much hope, even amidst the pain – because you epitomize the family of New York. You epitomize all we aspire to be. You have been there together from the most difficult, painful moment – and those moments in the hospital, to now, filled with strength, filled with connection, filled with devotion to each other. It's something we all need to remember.
And Officer Ramos was profoundly a man of faith. So much of his life centered on this beautiful church, this church family. He embraced a powerful idea – if your way isn't working, try God's way. He spent the last 10 weeks of his life studying to be a chaplain. And he was taken from us on the day he was to graduate. It says so much that he wanted to serve people spiritually. He was already serving in so many ways, and yet, he felt deeply called to serve spiritually as well. And he was thinking about that service – even in the years after he would leave the force – that he would continue to serve as a spiritual mentor and leader.
And he was so committed to the NYPD. It meant so much to him to be a member of the finest police force in this country. He always wanted to join the NYPD. It wasn't his first career. He started out as a school safety officer, protecting our kids, and he was much loved in that role. He had a dream that he would one day be a police officer, and he worked for that dream, and he lived it, and he became it. He couldn't wait to take that test. He couldn't wait to put on that uniform.
He believed in protecting others, and those who are called to protect others are a special breed. Those who stare down danger, those who sacrifice for all of us – that's what he wanted to be. He wanted to be someone who gave more, someone who would take risks that so many others would find unimaginable. He wanted to reach higher in service to others.
All of his brothers and sisters in the NYPD feel his loss, because they too followed that journey to serve others. They too accepted those risks. And they persevere despite the pain. And for that, we are eternally thankful.
One of the most beautiful passages in the bible is also one of the simplest, from the Sermon on the Mount – "Blessed are the peacemakers." That could have been said with Officer Ramos in mind. He was a peacemaker in every sense. Throughout his life, he was a man of peace, a man of love. He was a peacemaker in his large family, always bringing people together. He was a peacemaker in his church, working every day to spread a message of faith and love – helping others through their challenges, helping other families through their struggles. And he was a peacemaker for the city of New York.
Police officers are called "peace officers," because that's what they do – they keep the peace. They help make a place that otherwise would be torn with strife a place of peace. Officer Ramos put his life on the line every day so other New Yorkers could live in peace, so they could live in safety. That's what he believed in.
His life was tragically cut short, but his memory will live on in the hearts of his family, his congregation, his brothers and sisters of the NYPD, and literally millions of New Yorkers.
We will not forget.
I just want to say a very few words in Spanish.
Nueva York está de luto por la muerte de uno de sus mejores hijos, Rafael Ramos.
Rafael Ramos era un padre y esposo amoroso, un hombre de mucha fe, y un valiente policía que murió mientras trabajaba en mantener a nuestra ciudad segura.
Que en paz descanse su sacrificio no será olvidado.
We will always remember him. May he rest in peace. God bless you all.