July 3, 2019 – In Breaking News – USA TODAY
A single bagpipe played “Amazing Grace” as police officers and firefighters joined regular New Yorkers gathered to say goodbye Wednesday to Luis Alvarez, a former NYPD detective who made an emotional plea to Congress last month to extend benefits for those who responded to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
A police motorcade cleared the streets for the hearse carrying Alvarez’s casket to the Immaculate Conception Church in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens.
(In his final days, Luis Alvarez continued to fight for those suffering from 9/11-related illnesses, including in his emotional address to Congress. On Wednesday, he was remembered as a hero by family and the countless officers who lined the streets of Queens, New York in his honor. Courtesy of NBC News and YouTube. Posted on Jul 3, 2019.)
Alvarez, 53, was among thousands of first responders who spent months digging through the rubble for survivors, then bodies.
He died Saturday after a years-long battle with cancer he blamed on three months toiling at Ground Zero.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill eulogized Alvarez as a dedicated officer who fought to ensure that the needs of first responders won’t be ignored.
He noted that 23 police officers died the day of the attack – and 222 have died since.
He implored Congress to reauthorize the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund.
“No person who responded to 9/11 or who worked to the point of exhaustion during the lengthy rescue and recovery period that followed should ever need to beg our elected officials to act,” O’Neill said.
“I will tell you this – We can thank God it was Luis Alvarez who stepped forward to make that demand on behalf of every citizen and resident of our country.”
(NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill reflected on former New York police detective Luis Alvarez at his funeral Wednesday. O’Neill said Alvarez, who last month appeared on Capitol Hill fighting for the extension of the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation fund, was “a shining example of our city’s great diversity as well as the extraordinary call to service that so many courageous New Yorkers embrace.” Courtesy of PIX11 News and YouTube. Posted on Jul 3, 2019.)
Among the mourners was Mike Ferraro, 54, who worked with Alvarez in the early 90s. He said first responders showed up in force to pay homage to their fallen brother.
“They paid tribute to him and recognized the hero that he is,” Ferraro said.
“They’re out there everyday risking their lives for strangers, for people who can’t help themselves.”
He exemplified the NYPD motto, “Fidelis Ad Mortem” or “Faithful Unto Death.” Detective Lou Alvarez has lost his battle with 9/11-related cancer. An inspiration, a warrior, a friend—we will carry his sword. https://t.co/utRphj7owx
— Chief Dermot F. Shea (@NYPDDetectives) June 29, 2019
Former “Daily Show” star Jon Stewart and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, were in attendance but kept a low profile.
Three weeks ago, a frail and weak Alvarez, with Stewart at his side, chastised Congress for failing to adequately support the compensation fund.
“You all said you would never forget. Well I’m here to make sure that you don’t,” Alvarez testified at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.
“I will not stand by and watch as my friends with cancer from 9/11, like me, are valued less than anyone else.”
(Luis Alvarez was diagnosed with advanced-stage colorectal cancer in 2016 as a result of his work at Ground Zero. The 53-year-old shared the tragic news of his declining health on Facebook on Wednesday, writing that he is ‘still here and still fighting’, but has stopped treatment because ‘there is nothing else the doctors can do’. Alvarez is seen left testifying in Congress last week alongside former Daily Show host Jon Stewart. He gave a rousing speech in support of reauthorizing the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund that brought everyone in the chamber to their feet (inset). Alvarez is pictured right before he got cancer. Courtesy of Daily Mail and YouTube. Posted on Jun 19, 2019.)
The committee unanimously approved the bill, which awaits votes in the House and Senate.
The next day Alvarez faced his 69th round of chemotherapy.
A week later he was in hospice care.
(Former late night host and 9/11 first responders advocate Jon Stewart chokes up and slams Congress over health care for the 9/11 first responders during the hearing for reauthorizing the 9/11 victim compensation fund. Courtesy of CNN and YouTube. Posted on Jun 11, 2019.)