In what was a special pick for the borough, the New York State Unified Court system chose Bronx county’s new Hall of Justice to hold this year’s memorial service for three slain court officers who perished trying to save the lives of others on 9/11.
The event, which took place in the Jury Assembly Room on Thursday, September 11, was broadcast on closed circuit television to court workers, officers, judges and lawyers in the 13 judicial districts all over New York State.
The Honorable Anna Pfau, chief administrative judge for New York State, was in attendance to pay tribute to the families of the hero court officers who died in the rescue efforts at the World Trade Center: Captain William Harry Thompson, Senior Court Officer Thomas Jurgens and Senior Court Officer Mitchel Wallace.
“Seven years later, we are still in awe of what they did,” said Judge Anna Pfau. “We are inspired daily by the heroic actions of these officers. There is so much more to the story of 9/11 than the attacks and senseless violence. Thousands of uniformed heroes rushed to the scene of the attacks. They demonstrated and taught us humanity and compassion with their own lives.”
Pfau also thanked the thousands of other men and women who make the courts run, saying those working in the days following 9/11 had a Herculean task, but kept all of the courts running while re-opening the Manhattan court sooner than anyone would have anticipated.
Family members from Jurgens and Thompson families were present at the event, while the Wallace family was there in spirit as the next day fallen officer Mitchel Wallace’s son was to be married.
Also in attendance were hundreds of judges, lawyers, court officers, and court workers who make the Bronx supreme, criminal, and civil courts tick.
Representatives from the NYPD, FDNY, New York City Department of Corrections, Bronx Legal Aid Society, as well as the Cardinal Hayes High School band that performed the Star Spangled Banner and America The Beautiful, made the ceremony honoring heroes complete.
“We have set aside a moment in our busy schedules to remember the victims of 9/11,” said Judge Barry Solomon. “We watched the tragedy unfold from the window of the criminal court on 9/11.”
The Honorable John Collins, who was master of ceremonies, took time out of the event to honor the heroism of a court officer who rescued two men who fell off a subway platform while fighting and onto and electrified rail line within in the past year, Court Officer Timmy Cowart. Cowart had the same spirit as the court officers who raced into the World Trade Center, as he was on his way to work and not obliged to help.
“The fallen court officers were not there as the result of any assignment,” Collins noted. “They were there out of the goodness of their hearts, to save brother and sister citizen.”