JERSEY CITY, NJ - It seemed the whole Jersey City Police Department was present, lining up more than two hours before the funeral of Detective Joseph Seals. It was, for the brothers and sisters in blue he leaves behind, a chance to escort their fallen hero partner to his funeral.
As the officers and command staff fell into formation, Seals’ family members, including a young boy proudly donning his late father’s dress 8 point hat, huddled under the arched doorway of the funeral home, waiting out of the rain for the procession to start.
Police officers from near and far stretched in a line as far down Newark Avenue as the eye could see, a sea of blue, grim faces on a cold day, waiting for their chance to pay tribute to a man who, though many never knew, was a part of their blue family. Hundreds of police motorcycles lined city streets, pipes and drums belting out the occasional note or helping to keep the pace rang out.
As the procession grew closer to the church, the rain came heavier, but the lines of cops did not waiver, water dripping down onto their faces like tears, white gloves locked into a rigid salute none would cease until the casket passed.
City officials – Mayor Steven Fulop and members of the city council – walked near the head of the procession under umbrellas.
At the heart of Journal Square hundreds, maybe more, of civilians strained for a glimpse of the hearse, some standing on the stairs with their cell phones taking pictures, most apparently aware of the significance of the moment.
“This is something we have to do,” said Jersey City Police Deputy Police Chief Edgar Martinez, who noted that police from around the county and the state were in Jersey City to perform police duties locally so that local officers could pay tribute to their fallen comrade. Police from as far away as Australia, and all across the United States, made their way to Jersey City to honor Seals and help Jersey city mourn a man nearly everybody is calling a hero.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal were among the dignitaries that attended the funeral that was presided over by Cardinal Joseph Tobin, and had Saint Aedan’s Roman Catholic Church filled to capacity.
Seal’s family members, including his wife and five children, filled the forward pews, two of his sons taking to the altar to pay tribute to their father, the older one, Adrian, offering a eulogy that brought the crowd to their feet.
“He loved his family more than anything in the world,” Adrian said.
As thousands of police officers came back to attention to give Seals a final salute, it became apparent again, his family, both blood and blue, loved him right back.
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