Son honors his father’s legacy first responder

He was only 3 years old when his father died.

Matthew Brophy in a recent photo. Photo by Rita Brophy

Matthew Brophy, of Smithtown, is now 19 and has no personal memories of his father Thomas Brophy. His father was a police officer in New York for 16 years and was also a first responder at Ground Zero. Her father died in 2005 at the age of 36 after battling metastatic colon cancer. Doctors believed Tom Brophy’s cancer stemmed from his work at Ground Zero in the days after September 11.

Matthew Brophy, now a sophomore at Adelphi University, has the memories his mother Rita and loved ones have shared with him over the years. The stories left a loving impression on her of her father.

“I would describe him as a valiant, strong and charismatic individual,” said Matthew Brophy.

Among those in his life who have known his father are old friends, including Tom Brophy’s police partner, Rich Seagriff, and his training buddy Matt Fagan.

“His old friends treat me like I’m their own son,” he said.

The son said one of his favorite stories is hearing how his dad lost sight of him for a brief moment at Best Buy when he was 2. deactivate the alarm.

Like his parents, Brophy grew up in the Hauppauge school district. He graduated from Hauppauge High School in 2020. When it came time to learn more about 9/11 in the classroom, he said the information was not new to him.

“I really didn’t learn anything particularly new in the school system about 9/11 and Ground Zero because I was a kid involved in it,” he said. “If anything, I knew more than the teachers about it. For the most part, it’s taught just to be taught history in week one because week one or two of high school in America usually falls on September 11, at least in Suffolk it is.

Brophy added that this is not a topic that teachers delve into and that students usually see video of planes crashing into towers.

“It gets to a point where it’s so routine that I really feel offended, especially when everyone in the class knows they’re in a classroom with a child whose father died of 9/11,” did he declare. “Needless to say, I don’t think this is something that needs to be taught right now, but in the future, yes. If people are still physically suffering from an event, it means that it is still undeniably relevant enough to be known.

Brophy recently received a grant from the First Responders Children’s Foundation and is currently pursuing studies in psychology. He also juggles three jobs.

His mother said she was proud of him and “the man he is becoming”.

Rita Brophy said her son’s greatest quality is loyalty, just like his father.

“He is exposed to many friends with many cultural beliefs and he respects them,” she said. “I hope his worldview will continue to be open-minded and loving to everyone he meets.”

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