Following a proposal by Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, the Hempstead Town Board recently voted in favor of a resolution to install a memorial gravestone for a Nassau County police officer killed in the line of duty. The resolution, which was presented at their meeting on Feb. 25, was met with strong unanimous support.
The resolution authorizes the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association (NCPBA) to install a memorial gravestone next to the original gravestone for Nassau County Police Officer Alexander Benedict, who died while on patrol on Feb. 3, 1939. The gravesite is at the town’s Greenfield Cemetery. “More than 80 years ago, Nassau County Police Officer Alexander Benedict died tragically while investigating a burglary, but his heroism is still remembered,” Clavin said. “It is a fitting tribute to honor Officer Benedict with a memorial gravestone and we’re grateful to the Nassau County PBA for their generosity in providing the new memorial.”
Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, an NYPD detective and former chief of the Island Park Fire Department endorsed the resolution as well. “The men and women in blue put their lives on the line to protect the residents of America’s largest township, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Officer Benedict for his service and ultimate sacrifice for Hempstead Town,” D’Esposito said.
According to town records and Nassau County Police Department records, Benedict has no surviving relatives. Commissioner of Police Patrick Ryder explained that the installation will allow the community to properly honor Benedict’s memory.
“There have been 40 men and women that have paid the ultimate sacrifice here in Nassau County. They’re laid in gravesites, not only here in Nassau County, but throughout the country. Every year during Police Week, we go out and we take care of the gravesites, we maintain them and we service them,” Ryder said. “In 1952, Officer Benedict’s family had all passed on, and his gravesite was not maintained. That’s what we’re here for today.”
The IPA Color Guard, a committee formed under the International Police Association, Nassau Region 5, was established to maintain graves throughout the metropolitan area, visiting and cleaning the gravestones and grave areas of officers who died in the line of duty. In partnership with the NCPBA, the committee has worked to fulfill their promise to never forget Officer Benedict by providing a new memorial gravestone. James McDermott, the president of NCPBA, thanked the board for supporting the organization’s mission.
“All police officers lost in the line of duty are deserving of eternal gratitude from the residents that they swore to protect. In 1939, Nassau County Patrolman Benedict lost his life, and this measure by the Town of Hempstead is confirmation that the mantra ‘never forget’ is more than just words. The Nassau County Police Benevolent Association applauds Supervisor Clavin, Councilman D’Esposito and the town board for continuing to honor the legacy, courage and sacrifice of Officer Benedict and all those who have died while in uniform,” McDermott said.
“This resolution will assist in keeping his and other officers’ memory alive, which will show the utmost respect to these officers and their families,” Ryder said. “I would also like to thank the Police Benevolent Association for donating this memorial gravestone and to the entire Town of Hempstead Board for their continued and unwavering support to law enforcement.”
Ryder also pointed out that, in addition to giving his life as a police officer, Benedict served in World War I. Advocating for the installation as a way to honor the sacrifices of those in both law enforcement and other spheres of public service, Ryder referenced the words of Abraham Lincoln and emphasized the importance of commemorating such sacrifices.
“Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.’ Officer Benedict was not only a member of the service of the Nassau County Police Department that made that ultimate sacrifice. He was also a World War I veteran, and to leave his gravesite in the condition it’s in—again, the people at the Greenfield Cemetery have been nothing but professional in working with our department, so I commend them—is not how we shall endure. We must take care of those who have paid that ultimate sacrifice, we must take care of our veterans and we must continue to always remember those who have fallen and paid that ultimate sacrifice.”