Police Officer James Leahy’s selfless bravery on September 11, 2001 remains indelible — but the city has brushed aside the man who inspired his heroics.
Leahy, a 38-year-old father of three, was two miles away from the World Trade Center when he witnessed the first plane explode into the north tower. He and his partner left the safety of their Greenwich Village beat to race downtown.
There, the Staten Island native headed into the flames — without any protective gear — to assist in the rescue effort, pausing only to leave a reassuring voicemail message for his wife and young sons.
They never heard from him again. Leahy, last seen climbing the smoky stairs of the north tower with an armload of oxygen tanks for the firefighters above, died in the building’s collapse.
“Hero isn’t a big enough word to describe Jimmy,” Police Officer Victor Laguer, his partner, said at the time.
Three generations of Leahys have devoted their lives to New York City’s public service. But while the NYPD has honored James in countless solemn observances, the Parks Department has neglected the memory of his father Arthur, a security guard murdered in the line of duty in 1975.
“After my father was killed, that’s all me and my brother talked about, becoming police officers,” James’s kid brother Arthur III, now 54 and an NYPD detective, told The Post. “You wanted to be the good guy, the guy that stops it before it happens to somebody else.”
“My grandfather Arthur’s death was a stepping stone to my dad’s whole character,” said James’s son John, 27, a New York City firefighter. “He had so much responsibility at such a young age. He took care of everyone.”
James, the oldest of the five Leahy children, was only 13 when Arthur was slain at the city-owned La Tourette Golf Course in Staten Island.
A trio of thieves bent on stealing the links’ weekend earnings shot Arthur and beat him with golf clubs as he fought off their robbery attempt.
But after years of broken promises, the flower garden that the Parks Department pledged to establish in the Leahy patriarch’s memory remains unplanted.
Its intended site, a grassy traffic circle studded with goose droppings in front of the LaTourette clubhouse, contains only a crumbling flagpole and a listing signpost designating the space as “Arthur C. Leahy Circle,” unveiled in 2015 by then-Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver.
“They told us there was more to come,” said Arthur’s widow Jeannette Leahy, 81.
“He gave his life, and that was unheard of in the Parks Department,” said Denise Leahy Henick, 57. “We feel there should be proper recognition for that sacrifice, so that my father is not forgotten.”
The family’s attempts to get Parks to complete the memorial have been stuck between the department and American Golf, the California-based company that manages La Tourette and four other city-owned courses.
“At one point we were told there was no sprinkler system in the circle,” Arthur III said. “They said if they planted the garden we would have to come water it ourselves, somehow.”
Photos of the traffic circle show flowering annuals and ornamental shrubs thriving there in 2004 and 2012.
Despite the signage, La Tourette employees said they have no idea who Leahy was or why his name appears outside their workplace.
“I just tell people they have to Google it,” manager Sam DePaola said. “I wish I knew more.”
American Golf did not respond to a request for comment.
Leahy’s murder is one of just two line-of-duty deaths in Parks Department history, spokeswoman Meghan Lalor confirmed.
“We are happy to discuss the feasibility of a garden at this site with the Leahy family,” Lalor said.