NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thanksgiving can be a difficult day for anybody who has lost a loved one – especially if they were killed in the line of duty.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman spoke Thursday to families of New York City’s fallen first responders at a breakfast in their honor.
Breakfast at the Bryant Park Grill may not be the same as a turkey dinner, but for Lisa Tuozzolo – whose husband, NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, was shot and killed on the job earlier this month – it is a new solemn tradition.
“It’s bittersweet, because Id’ love to be able to be experiencing the parade and all of these fun activities with Paul and my children together, and I don’t have that, and I’ll never have that anymore,” Lisa Tuozzolo said.
At the National Law Enforcement and Firefighters Children’s Foundation annual breakfast, family of first responders who were killed in the line of duty had the opportunity to reminisce together.
“I feel like I have a whole new family of support and love around me, and they’ve been by my side to help pick me up,” Lisa Tuozzolo said, “and just when I have those moments when I feel I can’t lift my head. We’ve been there.”
The tradition dates back to 2001. Jack McNamara was just 2 years old when his father, FDNY Firefighter John McNamara, died from 9/11-related cancer.
“Thanksgiving was one of his most favorite holidays, because for him everything, was about being grateful, and Thanksgiving is the best day to be grateful,” said widow Jennifer McNamara.
In addition to moral support, the foundation provides financial support for the families.
“We didn’t take the job for the money. We didn’t take the job for the appreciation,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill. “We took the job because we wanted to make a difference, and I think we do make a difference.”
O’Neill said this Thanksgiving, he is thankful for the men and women of the NYPD. Lisa Tuozzolo is thankful for the same.
“I’m thankful for the time I had with my husband, I’m thankful for my friends and family and the whole NYPD,” she said.
There were about 1,400 people at the breakfast Thursday morning, even more than expected. It was a good sign for the foundation president, who said he hopes to expand programs available to help even more families across the country.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was not at the breakfast, but he sent a proclamation naming Thursday National Law Enforcement and Firefighters Children’s Foundation Day in New York City.