Mourners Bid Final Farewell To NYPD Detective And 9/11 Hero Lou Alvarez

July 03, 2019 - 1:26 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Funeral services were held Wednesday for retired NYPD detective Luis Alvarez, a fierce advocate for victims of 9/11.

The 53-year-old former Marine died Saturday after a three-year battle with cancer.

The hearse carrying the remains of the retired NYPD detective left a funeral home in Oceanside around 9 a.m. Wednesday for Astoria, where funeral services will be held at the Immaculate Conception Church.

As WCBS 880's Tom Kaminski reported, American flags were draped at every overpass from Nassau County into Queens. Police and fire crews stood at attention in a hero's salute. The FDNY also had several fire boats in ceremonial spray near the Cross Island Parkway.

Thousands of mourners, including comedian and 9/11 advocate Jon Stewart, the city's uniformed forces, family and friends, gathered outside the Queens church. 

While there was tremendous sadness and grief outside the church, there was also the sense that Lou is at peace, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported. He was in hospice, he accepted the fact that his death was coming and he fought until his dying day to spread the word to get the 9/11 bill passed in Congress.

Police Commissioner James O'Neill said Alvarez exhibited his “trademark stubbornness” in his fight against cancer and had an “undying commitment” to the people of New York and the department.

He joked that after serving in the NYPD's narcotics unit, Alvarez wanted to do something less stressful — so he joined the bomb squad.

“Talk about an exceptional human being," O'Neill said.

Alvarez's son said before his father "became an American hero, he was mine.''

Congressman Peter King said Alvarez led a heroic and courageous life until the end of his life.

"He really was a warrior for himself, for New York City, for the country, but also for all of the victims of 9/11," King said, calling Alvarez a "true American hero."

Alvarez testified before Congress with Stewart three weeks ago in an effort to see a new Victim Compensation Fund bill passed.

"You all said you would never forget. Well I'm here to make sure that you don't,” a gaunt Alvarez intoned in front of Congress.

Photos: Funeral For 9/11 Hero Lou Alvarez

His brother Phil says despite Alvarez’s humility, he was determined to seize the spotlight to get the 9/11 bill passed.

“Which is sad,” said Phil, “But at peace, because he was at peace. He was at peace. He was at peace in the end that he had gotten his message out."

At the wake, held Tuesday evening, mourners saw Alvarez in his NYPD uniform along with a letter he sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that read, “My goal and legacy in this world was to see the VCF bill passed. You have the power to do that.”

In a final selfless act, Alvarez asked that his NYPD badge be given to McConnell to convince the Kentucky Republican to renew the fund.

The full House is expected to pass the bill this month and after meeting with 9/11 first responders last Tuesday, McConnell agreed to call a Senate vote soon after that. A replenished fund would mean responders and survivors will receive payments for 9/11 related illnesses or death. 

During the funeral, O’Neill urged Congress to pass the bill and urged everyone at the church to call their representatives and tell them to pass the bill.

“The time for action is long overdue," he said.

King said he's hopeful the bill will be passed by the end of the month.

"Everyday that the bill is not in effect people are losing benefits," King said.

For his commitment and dedication, Alvarez will receive a key to the city.

Alvarez leaves behind a wife, three sons, his parents and three siblings.