By Phil Corso
After more than 11 years, a Bayside mother has not given up in her fight to secure her son’s place in history after he gave his life to help others Sept. 11, 2001.
Mohammad Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old New York Police Department cadet and emergency medical technician, died after he hurried toward the wreckage at the World Trade Center amid a horrific terrorist attack.
But immediately following the attacks, the Pakistani-born Hamdani was misidentified as a terrorist when his remains were discovered at Ground Zero.
Since then, his mother has become an active political commentator and continues to fight for the NYPD to acknowledge Hamdani as a casualty of the attacks on its official list.
She said her son did not hesitate to show the most sincere form of compassion by voluntarily rushing into the disaster without regard for his own safety, which was enough reason for the NYPD to recognize his service.
“My son would have gone in there no matter what,” Talat Hamdani said. “The man gave his life for humanity. How are his actions any lower than the others who died that day?”
The former Queens middle school teacher spoke at the February meeting of Community Board 11 Monday night to propose the renaming of the road where her family lived for more than 25 years at 204th Street off 35th Avenue.
“What I am fighting for is justice,” Talat Hamdani said. “That is why I started this campaign to get my son his due place in history.”
Growing up in Bayside, Mohammad Salman Hamdani was described by his mother as an all-American, New York City teenager. He played football for the Bayside High School team and was an avid “Star Wars” fan who drove a car decked out with its own young Jedi license plates.
The Hamdani family, including Talat and her other two sons, moved out of Bayside in 2007 and have lived on Long Island ever since.
Talat Hamdani has spent the past several years in grief mourning both the loss of her son and her husband Saleem, who died of cancer in 2004. The city had given Talat Hamdani a hero’s burial after his remains were first misidentified, but his mother got right back to work to restore his honor after learning that her son’s name was not included at the 9/11 Memorial site in lower Manhattan.
“I’m not asking for something that he did not earn,” Talat Hamdani said. “My son was on the NYPD payroll when he died. Why doesn’t the NYPD stand by my son?”
The NYPD did not return calls seeking comment.
Last year, Mohammad Salman Hamdani’s alma mater, Queens College, awarded a scholarship in his honor to pre-med student Anam Ahmed. His mother said she would not give up her fight to bring honor to her son’s name as long as she is alive.
“He is not here to speak for himself anymore,” Talat Hamdani said. “I am his voice. And until I get justice, I will continue speaking on his behalf.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.