Fallen 9/11 Hero Gets High Honor
Post office named for Chief Downey

By Ellen Yan
WASHINGTON BUREAU; Ken Fireman of the Washington Bureau contributed to this story.

April 19, 2002

Washington - President George W. Bush yesterday signed a bill naming the Deer Park post office after local resident Raymond Downey, a New York City fire chief who perished at the Twin Towers.

"It's great to have his name continue on, especially in that community," said son Chuck of Commack, noting that his parents have lived in Deer Park since 1961.

The White House hustled to have the bill signed privately yesterday because Downey's family was in town to accept a leadership award for Downey from the Congressional Fire Services Institute, a nonprofit group that educates Congress on fire issues.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), who wanted to honor his constituent, one of the first known dead in the Sept. 11 attacks. Israel's spokesman said it will take up to two months to get the name on the building.

Downey was an expert in disaster rescues and led federal emergency teams from around the nation in pulling out victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

In another recognition of Sept. 11 emergency rescuers yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved three measures that would give medals of valor to public safety workers who responded to the Sept. 11 attacks. The full Senate will choose one of the three. All of the resolutions would honor those workers who were killed; two also would honor injured workers.

The House several months ago passed a version by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Elmhurst) that calls on the attorney general and president to give the awards to the dead and injured under the medal of valor program, created in the spring last year and placed under the Justice Department.

Crowley acknowledged the resolutions are not legally binding and largely are symbolic since the Justice Department already intends to award the medals.

However, a congressional resolution "would still make a positive statement," the congressman said yesterday after Justice officials showed him a draft design of the medal.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and committee member Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the goal was to give out as many medals as possible.

Schumer said he'll work out a compromise to come up with the broadest possible resolution. "The valor and bravery of these people should not be forgotten," he said. "Hundreds of years from now, their bravery will be remembered. It'll be like Gettysburg or Bunker Hill."

Ken Fireman of the Washington Bureau contributed to this story.