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Thousands, including Jon Stewart, pay respect during funeral for 9/11 hero Luis Alvarez


Source: Twitter

Esha Ray , Karen Xia and Leonard Greene
New York Daily News

Mourners lined up outside a Long Island funeral home Tuesday to salute retired NYPD detective Luis Alvarez, who died after a heroic battle with 9/11-related cancer and a valiant effort to get first responders a permanent victims compensation fund.

Flags dotted the parking lot of Towers Funeral Home in Oceanside, where friends, family, colleagues and admirers, including Mayor de Blasio, sang praises for Alvarez. The 53-year-old spent his dying days fighting for city workers who toiled at the ruins of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and are suffering from related illnesses.

Alvarez, who died Saturday from colon cancer, was remembered as a tireless advocate who challenged the system despite his own hardships. He accompanied former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart to Washington, D.C. last month to plead with Congress to make the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund permanent.

Alvarez, who spent three months working in the World Trade Center rubble, entered a hospice within days of his testimony. His family announced his death last Saturday.

“He was very vocal about getting the guys and girls that he worked with when he was down in Ground Zero to sign up for the World Trade Center fund, to get checked out, to go for their medical appointments,” Phil Alvarez told mourners at his brother’s wake.

“That’s how it started, it was just that simple. It mushroomed into the last month of his life, being given this incredible avenue with all the networks and all the media and newspapers and radio that broadcasted his message.

“We hope and we pray that Congress heard his message and that he will have died a happy man for his efforts for the Victims Compensation Fund. I can guarantee you that if we need to go down there again, I will go down there again. I will have my brothers hat, I will have his coat, I’m a retired detective myself, and I will keep going until his message and his bill gets passed.”

Alvarez’ coffin was surrounded by a dozen wreaths and flower arrangements, some representing an NYPD badge and shield with the letters spelled out in gold carnations. Around his casket were family photos and pictures of him on the force.

Displayed in an outer waiting room were several copies of the testimony he delivered to Congress and a tattered American flag that had flown over Ground Zero.

“Lou Alvarez does not like his name out there,” said retired bomb squad Detective Brian Senft. “He does not like any type of recognition for any he’s done. This was so unlike him to come out in public and discuss his personal business and what he was going through. But he was so concerned about everybody else and everybody getting checked. He was so concerned about helping others even while he was fighting for his life.”

A day earlier, de Blasio said Alvarez would posthumously receive the key to the city.

“He showed us courage of the highest order,” de Blasio said later at a police academy graduation ceremony. “He went to Washington to speak a truth he should not have to speak, no matter how much pain he was in.. I don’t know why we are still having this discussion in this country. It should have been decided long ago.“Our nation needs to take care of those who take care of us. If anyone in Washington has a heart they should feel his voice right now.”

Alvarez’ funeral will be held Wednesday.


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