LOWER MANHATTAN — They are united in grief and coming together helps them — 27 families who lost loved ones in line-of-duty police deaths gathered for a moving ceremony at 1 Police Plaza Friday.
“It brings me joy to know that her legacy will be remembered forever along with other people who laid down their lives for other New Yorkers,” Genesis Villella, the 21-year-old daughter of police Officer Miosotis Familia, told PIX11.
For Villella, the pain of her police officer mother’s assassination is still so real and so raw.
Miosotis Familia was gunned down last Fourth of July weekend.
This Hall of Heroes ceremony at 1 Police Plaza provided some comfort for Genesis and her 11-year-old brother and sister, seeing so many other NYPD families who lost life loved ones in line-of-duty deaths over the years.
“They seem to be doing fine,” Genesis said. “It gives me time to process and hope that I can turn it into something beautiful."
Of the 27 new names in this Hall of Heries, 24 of them are officers who contracted illnesses from 9/11.
One of them is Detective Gerard Ahearn, who died of cancer in 2016.
“He defined himself as a police officer and it helps his children see that,” Teri Ahearn, Detective Ahearn’s widow, said.
“This shows how I always saw him as a hero," Kristen Ahearn, Detective Ahearn’s daughter, said.
The family of the late Detective Steven McDonald sat in the front row as Mayor Bill de Blasio talked of his choice.
After being paralyzed by a teenager’s bullet in 1986, McDonald chose to live a life free of bitterness and filled with compassion and forgiveness.
“No greater member of the force has ever lived,” de Blasio told the gathering. “We celebrate his life and his work is being carried on by Patti Ann and Conor."
“It is a great testament to who my father was to hear a person in that position say that,” Sgt. Conor McDonald, Steven’s son, said.
“Bittersweet but beautiful to be in the company of all these other families,” Patti Ann McDonald, Steven’s widow, added.