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‘A place to remember’

Lynbrook street named for late NYPD 9/11 first responder

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Family, friends and uniformed police officers gathered at the corner of Hodson and Central avenues on Aug. 21 as a new honorary street sign, “NYPD Sgt. Christopher Christodoulou,” was unveiled.

Christodoulou died of a Sept. 11-related illness in 2017, at age 45. Nearly three years after his death, his legacy of kindness and affection lives on through his loved ones, who celebrate his life of valor in the police force.

“Chris lived a life defined by quiet strength, courage, compassion and service,” family friend Joseph Tranor said at Christodoulou’s funeral in 2017. “It’s our turn now to keep the faith for Chris. Chris gave us an example of how to live, and it’s our job to emulate that.”

Christodoulou joined the New York City Police Department in 1997, and was promoted to sergeant in 2004. During his 20-year career, he was recognized five times for Excellent Police Duty and twice for Meritorious Police Duty.

As chaos reigned at the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Christodoulou and the NYPD counterterrorism unit responded quickly to the scene. Christodoulou’s heroism that day later resulted in a cancer diagnosis, triggered by the toxic smoke and fumes emanating from the twin towers. On Sept. 16, 2017, he died at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, surrounded by loved ones.

The street dedication was organized by Christodoulou’s neighbor, retired New York City Transit Police Sgt. Larry Lombardo. The two never met, but when Lombardo heard about Christodoulou’s legacy in the police force, he contacted Lynbrook officials and started a petition to erect the street sign.

The memorial was unveiled on Aug. 21 in a ceremony that included heartfelt speeches by Lombardo, Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach and Christodoulou’s wife, Melissa. Chris and Melissa were married for nearly 18 years and had three children, Amanda, Bryan and Nicholas. At the ceremony, Melissa thanked her loved ones and the police force for their support, helping her commemorate Chris’s life and honor his memory with a street dedication. Deacon Kevin McCormick of Our Lady of Peace Church later blessed the sign, Christodoulou’s family members and all attendees.

“Today, we all know Chris, and from this day forward, all who pass this intersection will know Chris and the sacrifice he made for all of us,” Lombardo said. “Nothing you love is ever forgotten. Lord bless this sign and all of us here today. Let us remember this as a sacred place, a holy place, a place to remember.”

The Sergeants Benevolent Association provided a truck with food and drinks for the ceremony’s guests. A melody of bagpipes and clapping hands concluded the ceremony in a final thanks to Christodoulou and a welcoming of his street sign, which will adorn Central Avenue for years to come. Beach said he was pleased by the attendance at the event.

“It was an impressive turnout by friends, neighbors and law enforcement to show support for such a fine family man,” he said. “Lynbrook was lucky to have been the home for such a good man. The street dedication will serve as a reminder for all of a life well lived.”

Donations in Christodoulou’s memory can be made to the Police Relief Fund, 3813 Northern Blvd., Long Island City 11101, or SIBS Place, 1420 Broadway, Hewlett 11557.