HARLEM, N.Y. – A gentleman. A pillar of strength. A voice of reason. A hero.
These are the ways that New York City police Officer Raymond Harris was described after he passed away from a 9/11-related illness on Sunday, August 4th.
Veteran police officer Raymond Harris had been working for the NYPD since his appointment to the 77th Precinct in 1990. He worked tirelessly in the wreckage following the attacks on the Twin Towers and has been battling the medical ailments that came along with it ever since.
His symptoms began developing in 2002, but it wasn’t until 2009 that Harris was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease affecting multiple organs but predominantly the lungs.
“Unfortunately for my husband it spread through his body like cancer,” said Harris’s wife.
He has fought an incredible fight, but on Sunday, he succumbed to the battle.
“The effects of 9/11 would go on to ravage Ray’s body in unimaginable ways but Ray fought this horrible disease for years, proclaiming to the world that he would fight until he won. He fought, and fought hard until the very end,” a post from the NYPD read.
Harris spent the last 265 days in a hospital before finally letting go. His wife of 25 years, LaSharn Harris, spoke about the moments before his last breath.
“He said to me that day, I need to let go and I need my dignity. Please don’t strip me from my dignity. I had to make the hardest decision of my life and I had to tell him he was ok,” she said.
Harris worked for the 77th Precinct of the NYPD. They released the following post on social media following the tragic news of his passing.
“If you looked up the word “gentleman” in any dictionary, you would likely find the definition to read, “a chivalrous, courteous, or honorable man.” If anyone who ever met Police Officer Raymond Harris were to right a dictionary it would certainly include a picture of Ray directly under that definition,” the post read.
They went on to say how valuable Harris always was as a member of the force.
“Harris quickly became a fixture, a leading figure, a voice of reason, and a source of great advice and knowledge. If you had any question or any problem, Ray would be the first person most other officers would turn to.”
Funeral services for Officer Raymond Harris will be held Saturday, August 10 at Bethany Baptist Church in Brooklyn.
Permanent funding for the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund was finally passed and signed by President Trump after a tumultuous journey through the House and Senate.
“Today we come together as one nation to support our September 11th heroes to care for their families and to renew our eternal vow — never ever forget,” Trump said when he signed the bill.
President Trump signed into law the permanent authorization of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which provides financial support for families who lost their loved ones as a result of the September 11 attacks. #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/xqlLBCuK1R
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 29, 2019
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He went on to praise the incredible efforts that our nation’s first responders put forth.
“The love and loyalty of our 9/11 responders knew no bounds,” Trump said. “They answered terror with the emotional strength of true American warriors.”
Many attribute the final success of the bill to the Congressional testimony of former NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez. Alvarez recently passed away after going through his 69th round of chemotherapy due to complications from being at Ground Zero.
“We are not here for anything for ourselves,” said Alvarez. “I did not want to be anywhere else but Ground Zero. We showed the world we would never back down and that we can all work together.”
Alvarez said he wasn’t there for himself, he was there so the victims who come after him are taken care of.
“My life isn’t worth more than the next responder to get cancer. This fund is not a ticket to paradise, it’s there to provide to our families when we aren’t there,” he said.
Tragically, Luis Alvarez passed away just weeks after offering his heartbreaking testimony.