Ground Zero Hero Laid to Rest as Fight for VCF Rages On

Luis Alvarez, a NYPD detective and 9/11-activist that spent three months aiding in the search and rescue efforts at Ground Zero after the terror attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, was laid to rest in Astoria on Wednesday after a long battle with cancer.

Dignitaries, officers, friends, family and hundreds more came to pay their respects to Alvarez at the Immaculate Conception Church on 29th Street.

Alvarez’s last days were spent going to Washington D.C. to fight to get the Never Forget The Heroes Act passed in Congress.

If passed, the bill would get the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund renewed to provide healthcare and compensation to first responders, volunteers, students and teachers and other survivors who were near Ground Zero in 2001.

“Today, we laid to rest Detective Luis Alvarez, a true American hero and one of the most courageous, honorable, and profoundly decent people I have ever known,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Astoria) who helped to garner support for the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. “His lifetime of service can never be repaid but we will fulfill his dying wish and cement his legacy by passing the Never Forget the Heroes Act to fully fund and make permanent the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund so that it is there for every first responder, survivor, and family who needs it.”

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has also voted in favor of the bill.

“She is dedicated to the passage of the 9/11 first responders bill and thinks that is a black eye on our political process that it is such a fight to ensure that we provide healthcare benefits to our first responders,” said her spokesman Corbin Trent.

Working on the city level to help get the bill passed is Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans). He is one of the lead co-sponsors of Resolution 897, which would call on Congress to enact the Heroes Act that was introduced by Maloney on the federal level.

“Our movement to preserve the dignity of the workers at Ground Zero has lost a champion,” said Miller who is on the Committee on Civil Service and is the Labor Chair. “Detective Alvarez was a faithful servant of the public whose sense of duty never waned despite his debilitating illness, and his compelling testimony was invaluable in focusing national attention to the plight of the nearly 50,000 responders and survivors diagnosed with a 9/11 health condition.

To honor our fallen brother’s sacrifice, we must secure the passage of the Never Forget the Heroes Act to make the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund permanent and solvent. For its part, the Committee on Civil Service and Labor will continue to work on behalf of the afflicted as well as any who were exposed but have yet to become ill to ensure they and their families receive every available resource.”

Commissioner James O’Neill was at the funeral and reminded folks that 222 officers, now including Alvarez, have died of 9/11-related diseases over the course of the past 18 years and that the bill needs to be passed.

“The time for action is long overdue,” said O’Neill.

On June 12, one of Alvarez’s last acts was to testify on the importance of passing the Heroes Act in Congress alongside fellow activists Jon Stewart and John Feal and several ailing survivors.

Disappointed by the lack of representatives in attendance at the hearing, Stewart openly shamed them for failing their constituents.

“Your indifference cost these men and women their most invaluable commodity – time!” said Stewart. “The FDNY response time to 9/11 was five seconds. That’s how long it took for FDNY, for NYPD, for Port Authority, for EMS to respond to an urgent need from the public.”

Both Stewart and Feal were in Astoria on July 3 to say pay their respects to the detective.

“I told Lou Alvarez his legacy will be us who continue to tell his story,” said Feal. “Getting the mayor and City Hall to give him the key to the city is just a start, cut still not good enough for me. Because it will be the tangible things that cement his legacy and I am not done ensuring this man’s legacy.”

Alvarez left behind his sons David, Tyler and Benjamin; his wife Alaine, his parents Aida and Felipe; brothers Fernando and Phil; and his sister Aida Lugo.

“As one of my brother’s beloved previous partners once shared with me, Louie was the quietest man I worked with, but in the end he made the most noise,” said Lugo as she called Stewart and Feal his “angels” for helping the detective spread his message.

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