Once every year, New York honors the men and women of the NYPD who perform acts of courage and bravery.
It’s a day that should make us reflect on the very nature of this amazing drive that these men and women in blue have to save and protect fellow citizens even at the cost of their own lives.
Commissioner Ray Kelly, as he bestowed awards on 42 of New York’s Finest, reflected on the qualities that compel people to commit heroic acts.
"The Greek philosopher Aristotle once observed that the greatest quality of the mind next to honor is courage," he said. "The members of the department being recognized today possess both of these qualities in abundance….For their selflessness and heroism, they’ve earned the department’s highest awards."
The soldiers, sailors and marines in our nation’s wars have shown these qualities again and again. The NYPD warriors are engaged in a never-ending fight against crime. And they have often been called on to risk their lives to rescue people facing dangers from accidents and natural calamities.
Among this year’s police heroes are two officers killed in the line of duty last year: Police Officer Alain Shaberger and Detective Peter Figoski. Their loved ones received the NYPD’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, analogous to the nation’s Medal of Honor, the highest award bestowed on members of U.S. military forces.
Detective Peter Figoski was killed as he responded to a robbery in Brooklyn’s East New York last December. The 47-year-old officer was shot in the cheek at close range as he confronted a gunman in the middle of a robbery. On the day of his death, as the family left Jamaica Hospital with Figoski’s body, more than 100 officers from the 75th Precinct saluted.
The detective’s four daughters attended this week’s ceremony. Two were weeping as the grandfather received the medal.
The Peter Figoski Scholarship Fund, sponsored by the New York Post and the Police Foundation, has raised more than $2 million to cover the college costs of the detective’s four daughters, Christine, Caitlyn, Caroline and Corrine.
It’s a mark of the solidarity of the NYPD that there is such deep devotion to each other at a time of tragedy.
The cops love each other. They are a family. And, when they perform acts of heroism and sacrifice, they are showing love for their city and the people they were sworn to protect.
This annual ceremony shows New York at its best --- the Finest under command of their Aristotle-quoting commissioner --- demonstrating a commitment to values of courage and honor.