26 names, including 19 from ground zero, added to memorial

By Michael Virtanen

Associated Press Published: Tuesday, May 10 2016 3:50 p.m. MDT Updated: Tuesday, May 10 2016 3:52 p.m. MDT

Officer Dax Verdia of the Suffolk County Police Department's rolls up a flag during a ceremony at the New York State Police Officers' Memorial on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. Law enforcement officials from across the state joined elected officials to pay tribute to more than two dozen officers whose names were added to the memorial.  (Mike Groll, Associated Press)
Officer Dax Verdia of the Suffolk County Police Department’s rolls up a flag during a ceremony at the New York State Police Officers’ Memorial on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. Law enforcement officials from across the state joined elected officials to pay tribute to more than two dozen officers whose names were added to the memorial. Mike Groll, Associated Press
Randolph Holder Sr. traces his son's name from the New York State Police Officers' Memorial on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. New York City Police Department Det. Randolph Holder, who died in the line of duty, was one of 26 officers added to the memorial.  (Mike Groll, Associated Press)
Randolph Holder Sr. traces his son’s name from the New York State Police Officers’ Memorial on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. New York City Police Department Det. Randolph Holder, who died in the line of duty, was one of 26 officers added to the memorial. (Mike Groll, Associated Press)


ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s memorial for fallen police officers has added the names of 26 officers, including 19 who died from illnesses that followed their work in the toxic rubble of the World Trade Center 15 years ago.

The 19 were among police trying to find nearly 2,800 people lost after the twin office towers were hit by hijacked jetliners on Sept. 11, 2001, in lower Manhattan. They stayed in what became a search for bodies from the attack.

They died over the past four years. Sixteen were from the New York Police Department.

Four other officers killed last year in the line of duty were added to the memorial wall, including NYPD Detectives Randolph Holder and Brian Moore, who were shot by suspects. The names of three state game protectors killed more than 50 years ago were also added.

Family, state officials and a phalanx of uniformed officers paid tribute at the memorial Tuesday to all 26 in a small park at Empire State Plaza.

“Their selfless service at ground zero during the dark days after the terrorist strike must never be forgotten and remains an inspiration to all Americans and people around the world,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

He noted that Moore’s father, uncle and cousin were police officers, that he served in an elite unit and that he made 150 arrests in less than five years until he was gunned down on a street in Queens. Holder grew up in Guyana, also from a family of law enforcement officers, and also was killed by a criminal with an illegal gun, Schneiderman said.

NYPD officers who died from ground zero illnesses were Detective James Albanese, Deputy Chief Steven Bonano, Officer James Burke, Officer Peter Ciaccio, Detective Louis Fernandez, Detective Stuart Fishkin, Inspector James Guida, Officer Cheryl Johnson, Officer Robert Kaminski, Detective Shaun Mahoney, Sgt. Patrick Murphy, Officer Peter Rodriguez, Detective John Russo, Sgt. Stephen Scalza, Capt. Scott Stelmok and Detective Richard Wentz.

Also killed by illnesses from that search and recovery work were Lt. Roy McLaughlin, Yonkers Police Department; state police Senior Investigator Thomas Moran Jr.; and Deputy U.S. Marshal Zacarias Toro.

The game protectors were Harvey Cruikshank, killed in 1926; Benning DeLaMater, who died in 1961; and Paul DuCuennois, killed in 1932.

The last two names added were Trooper Donald Fredenburg Jr., who died after a training run last year, and Sgt. Eric Meier of the Crawford Police Department in Orange County who died from a medical condition while investigating marijuana growing in a wooded area.

The black granite wall now has 1,413 names from 141 police agencies, officials said. More than half, 798, are from the NYPD.


Spring in Paris, My Adopted City, After the Attacks


Trees in bloom in the gardens along the banks of the Bassin de L’Arsenal and the Place de la Bastille. Credit Alex Cretey-Systermans for The New York Times

“Heures Heureuses!” — Happy Hours! — trumpeted the chalkboard menu on the terrace of 92, rue de Charonne. And as I sipped my cocktail at an outdoor table, absorbing the euphoria of a perfect spring evening, the words felt more like an apt description than a promotion.

In a haze of cigarette smoke and laughter, a full spectrum of my Parisian neighbors filled the crowded tables: a vivacious fashionista in huge red eyeglasses chatting with a Franco-African woman in a motorcycle jacket; a male couple in Ray-Bans cuddling at the next table. Behind me, two older women clinked wineglasses and leaned forward to hear each other amid the funk-music groove.

Twilight was falling. A Parisian night was about to flare into fullness.

The last time I visited La Belle Équipe cafe, a five-minute walk from my apartment, the outdoor space was an ocean of flowers, candles and hand-scrawled condolence notes. Hundreds of mourners gathered, whispering prayers for the 19 people gunned down there just two nights earlier, during the terror attacks of Nov. 13. Some longtime friends from the nearby Café des Anges, my corner cafe, had been among the casualties.

Once again, my neighborhood, the 11th Arrondissement of Paris, felt like the most shattered place in Europe. The first time was in January 2015, when French-born Islamic extremists stormed the offices of the satirical newsweekly Charlie Hebdo, an attack that resulted in 12 deaths. On Nov. 13, the Islamic State unleashed teams with Kalashnikovs and explosives to multiple hangouts in this area, as well as in the adjacent 10th Arrondissement and the Stade de France sports arena. That freewheeling Friday evening became an apocalyptic night of fear and blood. Some 130 people were killed.

Blossoms behind a bench. Credit Alex Cretey-Systermans for The New York Times

Horror and mourning. Destruction and rebuilding. Shattered lives and a return to the quotidian. Paris, and other parts of Europe rocked by terrorism, tilt dizzily back and forth these days. Thanks to support from friends and family — and Parisian solidarity, in general — I have managed to keep my balance and move ahead with life in this city that I have chosen as my home.

For years people have asked me, why did you move to France? French people ask with pride. Americans ask with a dreamy look in their eyes.

I know that look well. I was raised by Francophiles. My father lit out for Paris in the 1950s and spent months in a cheap hotel in the St.-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood. He drank beers at Brasserie Lipp and picked up his mail from the old American Express office near the opera house. My mother arrived in the mid-1960s for her junior college year abroad. She returned with paperbacks by Sartre, Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir and albums by Charles Aznavour and Georges Brassens.

I grew up with my mother’s soundtrack and my father’s stories. Going to France someday seemed as natural as going to college or getting a job. The Paris they evoked, reaffirmed by films like “The Last Metro,” “Last Tango in Paris” and “Diva,” was a moody, twilight city of long nights and endless intrigue.

I set out in 2004 with an aspiring writer’s predictable visions: the cozy bookshops of St.-Germain-des-Prés; the avant-garde architecture and contemporary art of the Centre Pompidou; the twisting hillside streets of Montmartre; the raspberry sorbet at Berthillon; the hot chocolate of the Café de Flore; revival cinema houses in the Latin Quarter; nocturnal picnics overlooking the Seine; the red neon sleaze of Pigalle; wine bars; jazz clubs; sunrise over the mansard rooftops.

Paris delivered those rewards and more, though French life has proved far more complicated and — lately — volatile. Only with time would I learn some of the less savory aspects of Paris society and French politics, notably the fallout from French colonialism in North and West Africa, the Algerian war of the 1960s, and an inchoate attempt to integrate immigrants from those countries into French life.

But nothing could prepare anyone for Nov. 13. The aftermath for some of my neighbors was crushing. An easygoing acquaintance named Khaled, a French-Tunisian cool cat who had bartended at the Café des Anges, was with two of his sisters during the attack on La Belle Équipe. They were killed; he survived. I saw him a few days later, dazed and red-eyed. Then he vanished from the neighborhood.

A longstanding French friend witnessed some of the shootings while out walking. He hid in a theater and sneaked home in the wee hours. Afterward, he feared being outside. I urged him out once — once — for a drink. After an hour, he asked me to see him into a taxi. Then he vanished, too.

Flowers, notes and candles replace the tables outside La Belle Équipe following the attacks. Credit Seth Sherwood

Even those of us who avoided the bullets and bombs were scarred. (I was hiding in a bar about a mile from the area when the slaughter was unfolding.) Some expatriates talked of leaving Paris. People I know avoided the Métro for a time. Others steered clear of monuments. My friends’ 12-year-old son was instructed on survival techniques in case of a terrorist attack on his school.

I went back to New York City, my hometown, in late December, as I do every year, to visit friends and family. This time, I found myself wondering: Why return to the tragedy of Paris and the turmoil of Europe?

But I felt a connection — both geographically and morally — to the challenges in Europe and beyond. I was finally feeling at home amid the city’s grand boulevards and splintering medieval passages. And I didn’t want to be Paris’s fair-weather fan. So I returned — eager, but unsure of what might unfold next.

Beyond my neighborhood, beyond France, the view sometimes appears equally cloudy. Sometimes I unroll an imaginary map and trace a trail of favorite cities in Europe that have also suffered terrorist nightmares in recent years. Brussels, our neighbor to the north, in March. Copenhagen, a frequent stop during three decades of visiting my Danish stepmother and stepbrothers, where a gunman opened fire on a cafe and a synagogue in February of 2015. Istanbul, a storybook city that I visit almost every year.

La Belle Équipe cafe, where 19 people were gunned down during the terror attacks of Nov. 13. Credit Alex Cretey-Systermans for The New York Times

Sometimes my travels turn up ghosts. In Parma, Italy, this spring, I spent days dreaming only of my next meal. Hocks of air-cured Parma ham and blocks of Parmigiano cheese awaited around every corner. Then, passing the city’s venerable university, the face of Guillaume, an old friend, materialized in my mind. A former bartender at my corner hangout, Café des Anges, he was part of the group gunned down on Nov. 13 at the nearby Belle Équipe cafe. He had studied and lived in Parma, a fact that I had forgotten until that moment. Funny, sly and fluent in Italian, he had been training recently to become a schoolteacher. I leaned against a wall, face to face with his terrible end once again.

In spite of these attacks, I don’t travel around Europe any differently than I did before. I don’t pack survival gear; I don’t buy travel insurance. I’m not constantly looking over my shoulder — or at State Department travel warnings, which almost urge you to compose a will before crossing a border. Why? Because the expanse of territory with no terrorist history, no jarring personal memories, is vast. For every spot in Europe touched by terrorism, there are many, many more that continue their routines as they always have.

Putting my finger again to my imaginary map, I can connect numerous cities that I have recently visited in total tranquillity. In Zurich, the only time I was scared was when I asked for hotel prices. In Milan, the main stress was how to fill two days with as many art museums, design galleries and osterias as possible.

Even Sarajevo, which two decades ago was the site of some of modern Europe’s worst atrocities, proved welcoming. Last fall, I passed from the domes, minarets and carpeted tearooms of the old Ottoman quarter into the churches, squares and pastry shops of the 19th-century core, with its palpable Austro-Hungarian influences. Never once did I feel unsafe.

And even amid the rising xenophobic climate in Europe and the racist noise of the far-right parties, there are voices of tolerance. Pope Francis in particular has been an example of compassion. Among his Easter rituals, he washed the feet of refugees of multiple faiths. More recently, he visited the Greek island of Lesbos, the landing point for so many Syrians fleeing the devastation in their country, and brought back a dozen to resettle in Rome.

Sometimes the bright spots are much closer to home. In November I visited Denmark to celebrate Thanksgiving in my family’s town, Knebel. That Thursday, I accompanied my sister-in-law to the language school where she teaches Danish to foreigners. The teachers had organized an international dinner to showcase food from the students’ various countries.

Entering, I heard a friendly commotion in Arabic. A group of young Syrians was hustling to prepare dishes for their fellow immigrants — Eritreans, Palestinians, Iranians. That evening, surrounded by the forests and farmlands of Scandinavia, we dined on kibbe (ground meat in a casing of cracked wheat) and kenafeh (a warm, sweet white-cheese dessert) as the Syrians told of abandoned studies and families in their war-ravaged country. Syrian Kurds sang songs. One fellow, a former student of British literature, quoted verses by William Blake.

That simple dinner fostered a sense of community and exchange that every global policy maker should feel just once.

A leafy pathway in Père-Lachaise cemetery. Credit Alex Cretey-Systermans for The New York Times

It is spring now in Paris. The City of Light is not plunged into darkness; the Seine is not a stream of tears. The neighborhood is in bloom. At one end of the adjacent street, Rue de la Roquette, oak and cherry trees blossom in Père-Lachaise cemetery, the final resting place of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopin and other expatriates who rhapsodized about this city, as well as Molière, Edith Piaf and a multitude of French legends.

At the other end, a new generation of strivers applies to become Parisian. “Droit d’Asile” — asylum seekers — reads the sign outside the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration, where refugees from the Middle East, Africa and Asia line the pavement.

In between, on my Rue des Taillandiers, life lurches ahead. Journalism assignments and deadlines. Walks to the gym (not often enough). Métro rides to the overpriced chiropractor whose Old World office suggests a baron’s apartment. Mornings at the outdoor market. Nights at the cinema (also not enough). Email backlogs. Electric bills. Leaks. Loud neighbors. Lunches with friends.

And as the leaves at last reappear, so do vanished neighbors. My first Parisian friend, who had feared leaving his apartment, is out again, hitting the Paris bar circuit and jetting off to Brazil, Mauritius and beyond. Even Khaled, the former Café des Anges bartender who lost two sisters, appeared the other night. He was standing at his old counter, a customer this time, having drinks and joking with friends.

Out for a spin on my battered Italian scooter, I can see the city’s surge in full view. Six new restaurants and wine bars have opened within a one-minute walk of my building. So have the restaurants and cafes attacked on Nov. 13.

On the terrace of La Belle Équipe, sitting among the twilight throngs, I scan a menu as diverse as this city: French tartare de boeuf, American-style barbecued ribs, Middle Eastern shakshouka. I am already eager to return, many times, to the “heures heureuses” here, and to the many hours of happiness that I have known all over this neighborhood, this adopted city, and this continent, my home.


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