The Remarks Of Speaker Sheldon Silver

2014 NYS Police Officers Memorial Remembrance Ceremony

Empire State Plaza - Police Officers Memorial - Albany, NY
Tuesday, May 6, 2014 [1 P.M.]

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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver honors fallen law enforcement officers during today’s remembrance ceremony at the New York State Police Officers Memorial in Albany. In Silver’s tribute to the names on the wall of the memorial, he also honored the officers who succumbed to the World Trade Center-related illnesses and noted the heroic actions of the NYPD on September 11, 2001.

To the families, friends and colleagues of the heroes we honor this afternoon, I humbly extend the respect and the condolences of each and every member of the New York State Assembly, as well as our profound gratitude for sharing with us the lives of these courageous men and women.

We join the good citizens of New York State in praising the Almighty for having blessed us with guardians of such valor and devotion to duty.

It is said the ancients believed one was not truly gone until one was forgotten.

In keeping with the time-worn tradition, we have erected this monument not merely to honor our fallen heroes, but to ensure that their names, their courage, and their sacrifice will remain in the minds and the hearts of the People forever.

I did not have the privilege of knowing the officers who comprise our roll of honor today, and yet, every second of every day and every night, I went about my daily life counting - almost without thought - on these officers.

Counting on their training and their vigilance;

Counting on their bravery and their nobility.

This is what we expect from law enforcement and if we are to be honest with ourselves, more often than not, we take our police officers for granted until, that is, we arrive here. Here we face a simple but oft-forgotten truth:

That the most valuable treasures we have in our state and in our nation are our heroes, the young men and the young women who devote themselves to justice and to public safety.

When they fall in the line of duty, the loss is devastating, because they are a treasure that cannot be regained.

To the loved ones and the colleagues of the officers who succumbed to World Trade Center-related illnesses, I hold a special fondness in my heart for you.

I live near the World Trade Center. I inhaled the toxic smoke that permeated every square inch of Lower Manhattan. I know how nobly and heroically the NYPD carried out their duties on that tragic September day and in the terrible days that followed.

It is small condolence, I know, but what your loved ones experienced and endured will prevent other first responders from suffering a similar fate. And I assure you, it will not be forgotten that your loved ones - New York's Finest - deserved better from our nation in their time of need.

When this ceremony is completed and we return to our offices and our homes, this wall will continue its solemn and solitary vigil.

There are times when I wish we could bring this monument to every community in this state, so that our children might understand that the things we take for granted - the peace and the security, the freedom and the justice they enjoy at home - sometimes require so much more than written laws.

For me, this wall says more about the nature of the people who accept the duty of enforcing the law than it does about the profession.

Law enforcement is a calling to men and women of valor. It is a calling to citizens who are driven to make a difference and to make things right; who are compelled to confront injustice and disaster, because this is what heroes do.

Their spirits, their love are with us today, so let us have the courage to pledge ourselves to making the State of New York a place worthy of the sacrifices they have made for us.

I close with the sentiments of the poet William Butler Yeats. "Think where man's glory most begins and ends, and say, our glory was that we had such heroes."

May G-d bless all of you and may G-d guide and protect our valiant law-enforcement officers wherever they are serving. Thank you.

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