New York Daily News

December 5, 2001

Solemn Salute to 30 Of City's Very Finest

Daily News Staff Writers

It is normally a time of triumph, a day to celebrate the extraordinary heroism of police officers. But yesterday's NYPD Medal Day ceremony was inescapably bittersweet.

Cops wear medals at Carnegie Hall yesterday. Medals of Honor were awarded to 30.

Cops wear medals at Carnegie Hall yesterday. Medals of Honor were awarded to 30.

Of the 30 recipients of the Medal of Honor, the department's highest award, 23 lost their lives trying to rescue victims of the World Trade Center attacks.

So one by one, relatives of the 23 cops — children, widows, parents and siblings — solemnly walked across the stage at Carnegie Hall to accept the awards in their loved one's honor.

"It's nice that the city is acknowledging that my husband was a hero on one day, Sept. 11," said Stacey Roy, whose husband, Timothy Roy, a traffic division cop, never emerged from the Trade Center rubble. "But I saw him as a hero every day of his life. And now he's not here with me."

Carmen Suarez, the wife of Transit Officer Ramon Suarez, who had been photographed helping a terrified woman to safety before his death, said the holiday season has been tough for her three children, especially their youngest, Jillian, 9, who accepted the Medal of Honor.

"Thanksgiving was very difficult. And my husband loved Christmas — he was like a baby when it came to Christmas. Normally, I would have my Christmas tree up now, but there's just this numb feeling," she said.

The fallen cops' families were not the only ones overwhelmed with emotion as the medals were handed out.

'We Know Where My Son Is'

NYPD Chief of Department Joseph Esposito's voice shook as he read the names of the heroes, and at one point he had to leave the podium when describing the terrible morning of the attacks.

When Officer James Smith, the husband of fallen cop Moira Smith, walked across the stage holding the hand of the couple's little girl, Patricia, dressed in a red velvet dress, Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik bowed his head in grief. Moira Smith was the only female cop or firefighter to die in the attacks.

William (Scottie) Weaver, the father of Emergency Service Unit Officer Walter Weaver, attended the ceremony wearing a kilt in honor of his native Scotland.

"We know where my son is," he said, looking toward the heavens. "That's what gets us through. We're going to miss him, but he's in a better place than all of us."

Sgt. Howard Sachs, who received a Medal for Valor — the NYPD's third-highest award — for shooting a machete-wielding man in 1999, said the heroic act he was honored for paled in comparison to the deaths of so many colleagues at the twin towers.

"I was fortunate to make it out of my situation," Sachs said. "Everything they did outweighed what I did."

Patricia Perry, who accepted the Medal of Honor for her son, Officer John Perry, who also was a lawyer and an actor, said she got some comfort knowing her son made it to Carnegie Hall.

"Being a police officer helping people was kind of like another role for him," she said. "And he was a ham on stage."