The legacy of NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez was honored during the Sept. 11 Remembrance as Governor Andrew Cuomo led 700 motorcyclists down the West Side Highway in tribute to 9/11 first responders.
His wife, Alaine Parker Alvarez, rode on the back of Cuomo’s motorcycle to a ceremony at the Javits Center where her late husband was posthumously awarded the Public Service Medal.
Alvarez, who was raised and laid to rest in Astoria in June, spent the last weeks of his life urging Congress to make the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund permanent. His testimony on June 11 gripped the nation and he died just over a week later at the age of 53 from complications related to colorectal cancer, which he traced to the three months he spent at Ground Zero following the attack. Alaine and his sons Tyler and David accepted the medal on his behalf.
“As he knew he was dying and he knew that the days were short, what did he do?” Cuomo asked the crowd. “He went down to Washington, literally in his last days, and he looked the Congress of the United States in the eye and he spoke the truth from his heart. And what he said was simple but powerful. He said, ‘put your damn politics aside and remember what it means to be an American and respect those people who gave their lives to defend this nation, and pass the Zadroga bill and honor the American values.”
One week after Alvarez’s funeral mass at Immaculate Conception Church on Ditmars Boulevard, the House passed the bipartisan legislation 402-12 and in July it passed in the Senate 97-2. President Trump signed it into law later that month.
Cuomo also signed legislation ensuring first responders and public sector officers and employees who developed 9/11-related illnesses receive pension and health benefits.
“The 100,000 brave men and women who showed up to help us on 9/11 deserve to be taken care of the way they took care of us, and we’re not going to leave them alone because they are American heroes,” Cuomo said. “We honor them, we honor their families and we honor their courage, and we will repay the debt we owe them.”
Assemblyman David Weprin sponsored the 9/11 Worker’s Disability Benefits Bill that guarantees Ground Zero workers, who spent 9 months clearing the pile of 2 million tons of debris while breathing in toxic dust, will receive the same disability benefit coverage as uniformed responders.
“Our brave public employees responded to the tragedy on 9/11 and put their own lives at risk to help their fellow New Yorkers,’ Weprin said. “This bill ensures that our state will take care of these workers just like they took care of us 18 years ago by granting them the full 75% disability benefit that they deserve.”
Previously, if these workers were unable to work due to illness, they would only be able to receive a ⅓ disability benefit resulting in extreme hardships for them and their families. The Governor also announced that New York will donate an additional $1.8 million to the 9/11 Memorial Glade, the pathway that honors the ongoing sacrifice of rescue, recovery and relief workers and the survivors who have fallen sick or have died from exposure to toxins in the aftermath of 9/11.