Tuesday, February 5, 2013
There are plenty of things that I could say about the former Mayor of New York City, but I thought this was more fitting. It's a letter to my daughter, reflecting on a good and gracious man. May he rest in peace, and may God bless the family and loved ones he left behind.
3 February 2013
Two days ago, New York City lost one of its greatest assets, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch. He passed away at the age of 88.
He was the Mayor of the City of New York for twelve years, long before you were born...but once on a warm September morning, you and he shared a stage.
It was September 6, 2000, and I was being sworn in as New York City's 40th Police Commissioner. The stage was full of dignitaries, police brass, and religious leaders. At six months old, you were sitting on Mommy's lap, front and center. Grandma and Grandpap sat in the second row and, right next to them, was the former Mayor Ed Koch.
With all the pomp and circumstance, Mayor Koch watched the excitement around him. He smiled and greeted everyone who said hello.
Mommy, who was sitting right in front of Mayor Koch, was holding her hands over your face, trying to protect you from the sun's rays, when the mayor leaned over and handed her his handkerchief.
"Put this over her head," he said, smiling at you. "The sun's no good for her."
Mommy thanked him, took the handkerchief, and placed it over your head, and for the remainder of the ceremony, you slept away.
When it was over, she thanked the kind Mayor, and tried to give the handkerchief back.
"Keep it," he said, "in case you need it."
And there's more to this story.
Twenty-three years earlier, I was working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with dreams of joining the New York City Police Department.
I wasn't sure how to apply for the job, so a friend recommended I call the New York City Department of Personnel and ask to be sent an application to take the NYPD test. I did, but the person I spoke with wasn't very helpful. I called back again and again, all to no avail.
Then my friend said, "Write a letter to the mayor - Mayor Ed Koch - and tell him that you want to join the NYPD and would like an application to apply."
At first I laughed. I knew that the Mayor of New York City had better things to do than respond to employment inquiries, but having nowhere else to turn, I typed out a letter and dropped it in the post.
Three weeks later, I received a short note from Mayor Ed Koch himself, in which he said that he forwarded my request to the appropriate departments, and should I not hear from them in the near future, please write back and let him know.
Within days of receiving his letter, I had more NYPD applications than I knew what to do with!
And the rest is history.
In July of 1986, I stood in the Brooklyn Technical Institute with 2,200 men and women, and was sworn in as a New York City Police Officer by the same mayor who made sure I received the application.
Fourteen years later, we all shared that stage.
Today, a New York City icon, and a great part of the city itself, is gone.
In reflecting on Mayor Koch's life, Chris Ruddy of NewsMax Media said, "He was a model of how a public servant and a good citizen can make a significant difference in the lives of others." In my case, that could never be more true.
When I think of the lessons we learn throughout our lives from others, there are a few very good ones that we could all learn from Mayor Koch.
Patriotism... his was viral!
He loved his city, his country, and his family, more than life itself.
In a recent interview for Vanity Fair, he was asked what was the one thing he most deplored about himself, and he said, "A willingness to go with my gut feeling rather than wait a day and contemplate other options."
When asked if he could change one thing about himself, what would it be, he said, "I would like to be more accepting of the faults of others."
And, one of my favorites, when asked what is the trait he deplored most about others, he replied, "Disloyalty."
Then came a question that took me back to that September morning.
What do you dislike most about your appearance, he was asked. "Sun damage on my face and head," he said. It was the same thing that bothered him about you sitting on that grand stage in the blaring sun.
When Mayor Koch was asked if he were to die and come back as a person or thing, what did he think he would want to be, he responded by saying, "A major political leader here in the United States."
I laughed to myself at that thought. If he were here today, I'd tell him something that he must have known.
Mr. Mayor, you were a major political leader in this country, right up until the day you died. You were relevant, candid, outspoken, and patriotic.
Celine, when Ed Koch was the mayor, no matter where he was or what he was doing, he would ask, "How'm I doing?"
If he were here today, we could tell him together that he did just fine.
I would thank him for his service to New York City and our country. You, my dear, could thank him for his handkerchief. It's a part of a great man that you can cherish forever.
Today, say a prayer for this great American.
Love, Daddy xo
BERNARD B. KERIK
Posted by BERNARD B. KERIK at 9:43 AM