ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)– As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, a Rockland County woman has found purpose and inspiration in her father’s ultimate sacrifice.
The woman is honoring his memory with her own service with the New York Police Department, CBS2’s Kristine Johnson reported.
“He was listed as missing so I went through every emotion you could possibly have,” Police Officer Erin Coughlin said.
Fiften years after 9/11, the emotions are still keen.
“You never truly heal,” she said.
Her father, Sergeant John Coughlin, was a cop’s cop– a well-known and respected member of the Emergency Services Unit. She said he was larger than life. Surely, she thought, he would come home safely.
“To me, my dad was the strongest man in the world. He was just this huge man and he was gonna get out,” Erin Coughlin said.
But he didn’t get out.
“Then our world came crashing down, literally,” she said.
Four years ago, Coughlin decided to follow her father’s path by joining the NYPD.
“You feel his presence… I feel his presence all the time,” she said.
The presence was made all the more powerful by the shield she wears. It’s the very same one worn by her father as a young officer and it was pinned to her uniform by her mother.
“It’s a complete honor to wear his shield, to wear something that he wore while protecting the city. Now I get to wear every it single day,” she said.
She said there is comfort in the continuity of the work of the NYPD and looks to those officers who lost their lives on 9/11 as an inspiration to serve and protect.
“That was their job. They had to help people so now here we are 15 years later, helping people,” Coughlin said.
She plans on honoring her father’s service and legacy, while carving out her own.
“Yes, I am Sergeant John Coughlin’s daughter, but at the same time I’m Erin Coughlin and I plan to do things my way– and that’s probably what he would’ve wanted as well,” she said.
Like her father, Coughlin said she plans to have an accomplished career with the department and said her guardian angel will be with her every step of the way.
“I think he’s up there. He’s beaming and he’s saying, ‘Thatta girl, keep it up,'” she said.