Staten Island Advance
December 27, 2014 at 6:41 PM

Massive, moving funeral held for slain Officer Rafael Ramos

Vincent Barone |

Staten Island Advance/Vincent Barone
Members of the NYPD assemble slain Officer Ramo's flower car before the funeral service on Saturday at Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, Queens. Click here to see the full Staten Island Advance gallery.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - Nearly two hours before slain New York City Police Officer Rafael Ramos' funeral, NYPD officers struggled to fit all of the floral arrangements into Ramos' flower car. There were so many.

Roses, carnations and wildflowers spilled out of the Cadillac's bed. The flowers were rearranged so they would fit just right and rope was used to secure the display in place.

In two hours time 25,000 police, from as far away as Los Angeles, flooded Myrtle Avenue outside the church for what was one of the city's grandest funerals for an NYPD officer killed in the line of duty. The national support for Officer Ramos was stunning for participants to watch.

"Their uniforms are different colors, their shields are different shapes, but the dedication they showed and the respect to this hero police officer is overwhelming for each and every one of us," PBA Head Patrick Lynch said after the ceremony.

Inside the church, Vice President Joe Biden, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Chief Bill Bratton addressed members of Ramos' family, a week after Officer Ramos was murdered in cold blood.

"Justin and Jaden, you've showed tremendous courage these passed few days. You are your father's sons. Just know, as hard as it is to believe, he will be part of your life, the entirety of your life," said Biden, during a tender eulogy.

Addressing Rafael's wife, Maritza, Biden said, "The time will come when Rafael's memory will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes. That's when you know things will be OK. I know it's hard to believe it will happen, but I promise you it will happen."

Justin Ramos, 19, who wore his father's jacket into the church, watched a 12-helicopter flyover and a 500-member police motorcade pass by after the service while seated in a black limousine. His brother, Jaden, 13, sat next to him in the limo, recording the motorcycles as they split the navy blue sea of police officers on Myrtle Avenue.

Biden's address to the Ramos family was the most moving part of the service for Brooklyn Assemblywoman Roxanne Persuad, who was in attendance at the church.

"All of the speeches were very appropriate," she said after the funeral, "but when Biden addressed the family--that brought a tear to my eye...He let the sons know that they have parents, in these police officers, across the city."

Almost all members of the NYPD who were not on duty attended the service. Many of them watched a live stream from inside the church on a screen set up on the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Cypress Hills Street.

Each officer stood, shoulder to shoulder, with their arms folded in front of them. All police officers from around the country wore black bands over their badges -- a sign of mourning.

New Yorkers looking to show support gathered on the outskirts of the throngs of police officers. Mary Pat Kane, of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, took a bus and a train to catch a glimpse of the service from Myrtle Avenue.

Kane was touched by the surreal quietude while thousands of NYPD members watched as officers carried Ramos' casket out of the church.

"It was absolutely silent and nobody moved," she said, noting that she felt it was important to make the trip to the funeral.

"There's nothing you can do for the family but show up," Kane continued. "Let the numbers speak for themselves."

And they did.