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Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Memorial Service for Deputy U.S. Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller
Bridgeport, W.V. ~ Monday, February 21, 2011

Thank you, Director Hylton.

 

Although an unspeakable, and devastating, tragedy has unfortunately brought each of us here today, it is an extraordinary life that binds us together.   I am honored to be with you.   And I am grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute, as well as my respects, to Deputy Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller.

 

To Derek’s mother, Pam; to his brother, Dustin; and to his girlfriend, Megan: Thank you for allowing me stand with you and alongside those who knew Derek best and who loved him most.

 

I am here on behalf of a grateful nation.   And, along with Director Hylton, I am here on behalf of America’s law enforcement community.   But, above all, I am here as one of Derek’s colleagues.

 

Derek was one of our own.   He was one of our best.   And he will be missed.

 

At just 24-years-old, Derek had become an important part of the Marshals Service team – and a proud member of what he called “the nation’s greatest law enforcement agency.”

 

And though we grieve for all that Derek could have – and surely would have – become, there is much to celebrate in the life that he lived, in the example that he set, and in the inspiration that he will continue to provide us.

 

Derek’s career, like his entire life, was distinguished by a passion for serving others; for helping people in need; and for using his intellectual and athletic gifts to protect the most vulnerable among us.

 

As a teenager at Bridgeport High School, Derek was already dreaming of a career in law enforcement and of a life spent using his talents to assist and empower others.

 

Like his father, Lieutenant Jim Hotsinpiller, who for three decades was a proud member of the Bridgeport Police Department; and like his brother, Detective Dustin Hotsinpiller – Derek set his sights on serving others and improving the community that he loved.

 

His supervisor, Chief Deputy Michael Claxton, has said that Derek reminded him “of just what it means to be a new deputy: full of life, energetic, and a pleasure to work with.”   And Bridgeport’s Police Chief, John Walker, has described Derek as “the type of guy that would turn a rainy day into sunshine.”

 

Derek’s enthusiasm for his work, his commitment to both his duties and his colleagues, and his dedication to the things that he loved most in this world – his family and friends; his high school sweetheart; and, of course, trout fishing – were obvious.   So were Derek’s abilities.

 

In high school, and later at Fairmont State University, Derek stood out in the classroom – and on the basketball court.   Time and again, his aptitude, his enthusiasm, and his fearlessness set him apart.  

 

He was a young man with big plans – and with limitless potential.

 

It came as no surprise to his family, and to his former classmates, teammates, teachers, and coaches that Derek excelled at the Marshals Academy – where he was consistently described as determined, focused, thoughtful, and eager to improve.  

 

Indeed, Derek was all of these things. But he was not naïve.

 

As the son of a distinguished police officer and the brother of another, Derek possessed a clear understanding that some of life’s most important duties come with great risks.   He knew that the work of protecting our communities, and our country, can often carry us into harm’s way.

 

And yet Derek sought out one of the most important jobs in law enforcement.   As a Deputy United States Marshal, each day, Derek faced considerable threats.   And, each day – right up until the morning of his death – he chose to put the safety of others above his own.   This is what the Marshals Service does.  

 

The responsibility that he – and his colleagues and fellow heroes, Supervisory Deputy Marshal Alex Neville and Deputy Marshal "Fred" Frederick – took on that morning reflects the courage and dedication that Derek exhibited throughout his service as a Deputy Marshal.

 

And while we will never have the privilege of knowing what more Derek would have made of his life – of the work that he would have continued, of the husband that he would have been, and of the family that he would have created – we already know what he made of our world.

 

Derek left this world too soon, but he left it a better place.

 

Today, I wish that I could give you – Derek’s family and friends – the peace that you seek.   I can’t.   But I can make you a promise. The work that Derek loved, and the service that was at the center of his life, will continue.   His sacrifice will be honored by a law enforcement community – and by a Department of Justice – that is inspired and strengthened by Derek’s example.  

 

And I want you to know that your loss will fuel our ongoing commitment to do everything within our power to protect the safety of every United States Marshal – and every law enforcement official.

 

Derek’s story is one that I will carry with me.   And, in ways both large and small, I believe that we can all carry on his work.   Each one of us can extend his commitment to helping others.   Each one of us can take up his dream of improving our communities – and our country.   Each one of us can, quite simply, care - as he did.  

 

Again, I want to thank you for allowing me to share in this moment, and for allowing me to salute the life and service of Deputy Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller.   I am honored to join you in taking him to his rest, thanking him once more, and bidding him farewell.

 

And, now, I’d like to invite Derek’s mother, Pam, and his girlfriend, Megan, to share their thoughts and words with us.

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