NYPD Medal Day honors officers who died of 9/11 illness and slain cops

Molly Crane-Newman , Thomas Tracy , Tina Moore, New York Daily News

The wife of slain NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos was glad to accept a posthumous medal of honor for her husband Tuesday on Medal Day at police headquarters. But Maritza Ramos would be much happier if he could have received it himself.

“They’re all heroes in my eyes,” the widow said of dozens of cops who got medals. “I just wish my husband was here to receive one also.”

She said she was sure her husband was watching from heaven and that, “I’m pretty sure he’s excited.”

The widow and other Ramos family members filled a half dozen seats at 1 Police Plaza, wearing badges emblazoned with the cop’s name and photo.

The family of the cop killed alongside Ramos, Wenjian Liu, in a patrol car in Brooklyn last December sat in the row behind the Ramos family.

More than 40 individual cops and a handful of precincts were honored.

The cops included Rosa Rodriguez, who was badly injured in a 2014 Coney Island fire that killed her partner, Dennis Guerra, who was honored posthumously.

“They were the first on the scene and people were in danger…they did not hesitate to go towards the danger,” Mayor Bill Bratton told the sea of blue that packed the auditorium. “Time was not on their side.”

Other officers honored included Detective Elder Loor, who is still recovering after he was stabbed repeatedly in the head by a maniac in 2012. He had to undergo surgery that included removing part of his skull.

“I’m happy just to be here, alive,” Loor said. “I’m still going through hard times but it’s good to still be here. I’m still out on medical leave.”

He said that he was going to put the medal on the wall in his house. When he looks at it, he’s going to remember what happened and “be glad that I’m still here,” he said.

The department also honored 14 cops who died from illnesses they suffered that were tied to their work at Ground Zero after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Paul Ferrara accepted the medal on behalf of his father Sgt. Paul Ferrara Sr., who died of cancer in August.

“I’m happy,” the autistic 12-year-old said. “It is very special.”

His mom Kerrie Ferrara said she appreciated the honor.

“I think it’s a great honor and I’m glad my son could receive it on his father’s behalf,” she said. “They had an incredible relationship, so if anyone had to get it, it had to be Jr.”

De Blasio thanked the cops. “We have plenty of time to debate different questions of policy,” he said. “But today we should actually remember the underlying motivation. People choose this profession because they want to make a difference and those before us made a difference on a grand scale.”

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the department wasn’t always portrayed accurately.

“There are many who are challenging the police profession, who are challenging us because of the actions of a few officers, inappropriate in some instances, mistakes on the other hand,” Bratton said.

He told the filled room that “a true portrayal of our department is exemplified by those we honor today.”

“We will bear the slings and the arrows because that’s what we do,” he said. “but we will also continue and we will ultimately succeed in telling our story.”

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