We are fortunate to have so many distinguished and honorable guests join us in this chamber, with all their talents, accomplishments, and contributions. The last session week in November, I had made arrangements to introduce an extraordinary individual by the name of Mick Henry.
Mick was in a wheelchair, because of a tough battle with deadly brain cancer. In his weakened state, he suffered an accident earlier in the week that prevented him from traveling. A sad circumstance, but when you know his story, you find admiration and inspiration welling up.
Years ago, Mick was a top-notch narcotics detective in New York City, bringing down drug dealers large and small. Then came the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Mick spent the next twenty-eight days digging through the toxic rubble at Ground Zero, hoping to uncover survivors but finding mostly remains and remnants. He was not required to do so; he was one of the countless heroes who made that search an intensely personal mission.
He later moved to Paupack Township, where he became involved in the community in many ways and continued his disaster response work, helping victims of Hurricane Sandy as a recent example. Mick helped design a 9/11 memorial at Wallenpaupack Lake Estates where he resided.
Cancer struck him once, and then came a second, more serious cancer diagnosis. It is hard in many cases to trace the cause of cancer, but in this one those twenty-eight days at Ground Zero would be a reasonable conclusion. Mick, as you have likely judged, was not a white-flag kind of guy. He began working his way through an ambitious bucket list, much of it for the benefit of his son, with the same intensity and determination he had shown throughout his life.
He was a big Yankees fan, so a summer trip to Yankee Stadium and meetings with Robinson Cano and Reggie Jackson were highlights. It is hard to imagine the state Senate chamber was on a list with Yankee Stadium. The truth is, it is we who would have been honored by his presence here.
By the grace of God and through his indomitable spirit, Mick fought the enemy of cancer longer than most thought possible, yet even the strongest of body and spirit cannot hold out forever.
Mick passed away Thanksgiving Day, a time when we were giving thanks for the abundant blessings in our lives. Mick’s life is a reminder that those blessings include the exceptional service provided by those who protect us and respond to help us when emergencies strike. Mick’s passing reminds of the sacrifices made and the costs paid by those dedicated individuals.
On that day in mid-November, I would have asked for rousing applause as affirmation of his courage. On this December day, I ask for a moment of silence to honor the memory of the inspirational life of Mick Henry, and that our deep condolences be conveyed to his wife Donna and son Michael.