Officer Stephen Blihar (left) in Salt Lake City with Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, Port Authority Police Sgt. Antonio Scanella and the Stars and Stripes recovered from the World Trade Center.
When the US flag from the World Trade Center was carried into Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremonies, Glen Cove resident and NYPD Emergency Service Unit officer Steven Blihar was part of the honor guard following the athletes.
Officer Blihar survived the trade center attacks, but lost his partner, four men from his team, and 14 from his unit. He was still reeling from the horror of that September day when he was called by his commanding officer, Inspector Wassen, NYPD ESU, and asked to do a "big favor." That favor was the unparalleled honor of representing the NYPD along with representatives from the NY Fire Department and the Port Authority police in Salt Lake City.
His wife Ann Marie, who accompanied her husband, said that the impact the flag had on the crowd was something she will never forget. "Right before the ceremony, [NBC personality] Al Rokar was warming up the audience, and people were having a great time laughing and shouting. When they walked in with the flag, there was a complete hush over the crowd. The only sound was from a helicopter circling above."
Officer Blihar agreed that the reception was profound. "People were reaching out, just wanting to touch the flag, just wanting to be a part of what it represented." He added that the forum of the Olympics was a perfect venue to present the flag from the World Trade Center. "It was not about New York City, or even about the US. We lost people from 80 countries that day. This was about the world."
The son of former Glen Cove City Clerk Cecelia and the late Joseph Blihar, Stephen's was an established Glen Cove family from the time his father was born. His mother is now married to Fred Musante. They and siblings Joseph, James and Kathleen are extremely proud of all Stephen has done, most especially since September 11.
Officer Blihar and his wife live in Glen Cove, in the house in which his father grew up. They have two children Matthew, 10, and Rachel, who is 9.