Monsignor Romano, Mary, Alexa and Christina, Anne and John, members of the New York City Police Department, and to all other friends and family here this morning: On behalf of the entire NYPD, you have our sympathy and our eternal gratitude.
September 11, 2001, was a painful day in New York City; probably the most painful day in our city’s history. And more than 15 years later, it still hurts.
New Yorkers feel it every day – when we see the downtown skyline, when we hear a jet engine roar overhead, even when the sky is that crisp blue color it was on that Tuesday morning.
The pain can be intangible, like a nameless anxiety. But it’s also very real, and right in front of us every day. Because our heroes from that day are still dying.
The New York City Police Department lost 23 members the day America was attacked in 2001. And in the years since, we’ve lost 132 more due to illnesses related to that terrorist act.
Today, we celebrate the life of yet another casualty of the war that began on 9/11 – Deputy Chief James Molloy.
As the towers of the World Trade Center burned, then-Deputy Inspector Molloy was stopped in traffic inside the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. And when they collapsed, and the tunnel filled with dust and debris, he made his way to Ground Zero to join – and to help lead – the largest rescue-and-recovery effort New York City had ever seen.
Police, firefighters, and other rescue workers were tested in ways that only few can fully understand.
In the days, weeks, and months that followed the attacks, Jim worked with hundreds of other cops and volunteers to clear the burning pile, sifting through mountains of debris in the search for evidence and remains. And with every breath, he was giving his life for the people of this great city.
But that was his calling, because he was a New York City cop. And he was a great one.
In his 35-year career, Jim worked in more than a dozen commands all across the department, and was commanding officer of several of them – the 101 Precinct in the Rockaways, Queens Detectives, Operations, and the Emergency Service Unit.
He loved each command he worked in, but it was ESU where Jim truly found a home. That doesn’t surprise me at all, though, knowing the type of man that Jim was, and the caliber of cop that ESU demands.
There’s a reason why that elite unit suffered more losses on 9/11 than any other: It’s because they always work as a team. They understand even more than other cops what it means to put their lives in the hands of others.
And they went into those towers together, shoulder to shoulder, so that others could get out. This is exactly the kind of leader Jim was throughout his entire career – a first among equals who would never tell his cops to do something he wouldn’t – and usually didn’t – do himself.
He loved his cops. And he loved this department.
He made it his life’s work protecting everyone who lived, worked, and visited this city. And we’re all better off because of that devotion.
We are also grateful to Jim’s family: His wife Mary, his daughters Alexa and Christina, his brother John, and sister Anne. And everyone who loved and cared for him. We are indebted to you for sharing Jim with us. And we’re humbled by your continued courage and grace through his illness and loss.
We can’t imagine the hardships you have endured, and the grief you’ll continue to endure. But please know that the NYPD will always be here for you. And just as policing is in your family, you’ll always be a part of our NYPD family.
And I say to you: Thank you.
The terrorist attacks that brought us all here together today also brought out the worst and the best of humanity in 2001. The scale of the city’s loss was difficult to comprehend at the time and, tragically, the losses didn’t end then. Nor will they end today.
Police families understand that this list will grow. It’s in the very nature of what we do. This job gives us so much, but it can also take everything away without any warning.
We never forget that. Not for a minute.
But still, thousands of dedicated men and women put on an NYPD uniform and go to work every day, despite the risk. It’s part of what makes cops and their families so special. And it’s what makes me proud to be a part of the greatest profession – in the greatest city – in the world.
That’s why we’ll be back, again and again.
We’ll be back to honor people like Jim, who fulfilled his oath to the people of New York City. And as we celebrate his oath, we continue to fulfill our own – our commitment to his memory, to his loved ones, and to all of our brothers and sisters in blue.
Today, tomorrow, and forevermore, we honor Chief Molloy – and ALL of our heroes – by carrying on his most important work, and by leading lives of significance, every day – just as he did.
That’s our sworn pledge to him and to his family: That all of us will do our best to live up to his immense legacy.