NEW YORK - The holidays can be a hard time for those who have lost loved ones, especially for families whose husbands and fathers were killed in the line of duty.
It’s why the NYC Police Benevolent Association continued its tradition Saturday, hosting the Annual Widows’ & Children’s Holiday Party at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, Queens, where the families of fallen NYPD officers can feast, have fun and comfort each other during the holiday.
Sanny Liu, little Angelina, and Maritzia Ramos are all still connected, eight years after their husbands were assassinated.
"The department said they would never forget," Ramos said. "And truly and honestly they have never forgotten us, and today proves that."
"The folks in this room have gotten that dreadful knock, where they look out and see a chaplain, a police officer from our job, standing at the door, and you know what that means," said Patrick J. Lynch, NYC PBA President.
" My husband was police Officer James Leahy from the sixth precinct, who was killed on 9/11," said Marcella Leahy, widow of NYPD Officer James Leahy.
FOX 5 News spoke to three women, still mourning their husbands. Every year, the reason they gather may be due to grief, but they told me the holiday party is more supportive than sad.
"This party, in the beginning, I never came to it, until some of my ladies told me it was a great event to attend," said Carmen Suarez, widow of NYPD Officer James Leahy. "That really truly care for the widows and children. And that’s what made me start coming. And I realized it’s amazing what they do for all of us."
"So as we celebrate the acknowledgment of this holiday season, we want to tell you that we know it’s a painful moment. But your loved ones took that pain into purpose," said Mayor Eric Adams.
For Maritzia, Sanny, and their children, the holidays are especially hard. Their husbands were shot and killed on December 20, 2014, by a gunman while sitting in a police car in Brooklyn. But the NYC PBA makes it clear— it’s always going to be there to care for and console their families, and every year, bring them a little holiday cheer.
"To know that you’re not by yourself in dealing with such a horrible loss and other people, unfortunately, know the pain that we’re going through, helps you get through it," Ramos said.
Across the country this year, 209 police officers have died in the line of duty, 10 in New York.