9/11 responder Det. Luis Alvarez will be honored with key to the city

The NYPD veteran died from Ground Zero-related cancer at 53.

As friends, family and colleagues prepare to lay Det. Luis Alvarez to rest, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he would honor the memory of the NYPD veteran — who succumbed to Ground Zero-related cancer at 53 years old — with a key to the city.

The mayor was fulfilling a request from Alvarez’s fellow 9/11 first responder John Feal, who appeared on CNN’s New Day on Monday to speak about Alvarez after his death on Saturday. He pleaded with the mayor to pay tribute to Alvarez’s life with a key to the city. 

Feal, Alvarez and other 9/11 first responders joined Jon Stewart at a congressional hearing last month to appeal for the extension  of the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund.

"In 2015 … when we lost Ray Pfeifer, who was the face of the movement back then, I asked New York City and the mayor to give Ray the key to New York City. So I’m asking Mayor de Blasio to give Luis the key to New York City," a teary-eyed Feal said on CNN. 

A few hours later, the mayor said on Twitter he would move forward with that request. 

"This city can never repay its debt to Detective Lou Alvarez. It will be my honor to award him with a posthumous Key to the City as a symbol of our profound respect and gratitude for his service and sacrifice," he tweeted.

The mayor’s office didn’t provide details about any additional events to honor Alvarez. 

His wake will take place Tuesday at the Towers Funeral Home Inc., 2681 Long Beach Rd., in  Oceanside between 1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. Alvarez’s funeral is scheduled for Wednesday morning at Immaculate Conception Church in Astoria.

His congressional testimony, which he gave before he began his 69th round of chemotherapy, helped raise awareness for the fund, which is set to expire in December 2020.

"I should not be here with you, but you made me come. You made me come because I will not stand by and watch as my friends with cancer from 9/11, like me, are valued less than anyone else," he said.

The House Judiciary Committee approved bipartisan legislation to renew the fund following the emotional hearing. A group of 9/11 first responders who later met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the lawmaker committed to scheduling an August vote to renew the fund. 

"We all have targets on our back, and time is of the essence," Feal said on CNN. "Congress and the Senate, they need to sense that urgency now." 

With Newsday

Ivan Pereira