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Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks at the Civil Division Awards Ceremony
~ Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thank you, Stuart [Delery], for those kind words, and for your exceptional leadership as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division.  It’s a pleasure to share the stage with you today – as we come together to recognize so many dedicated colleagues; as we call attention to the progress that each of them has made possible; and as we thank them for their tireless work over the past year: in support of this Department, in pursuit of justice, and in service of the American people.

It’s a great privilege to join you in congratulating our 2013 Civil Division award recipients.  And it’s an honor to help welcome all of the proud family members, friends, and distinguished guests who have taken the time to be here in the Great Hall, and whose support – and sacrifices – have been essential to everything that our awardees have accomplished.  Make no mistake: every one of you shares in the recognitions that we are about to bestow.

From the robust enforcement of federal consumer protection laws, to record-setting recoveries under the False Claims Act, this year’s award recipients have secured billions of precious taxpayer dollars through affirmative litigation.  By enforcing regulations to ensure the safety of medicines and food products – and by administering essential public health programs – you have helped to protect the American people.  By taking on numerous cases concerning sensitive matters related to national security, you’ve fought to keep our nation both safe and strong.  And you’ve done it all in a time of unprecedented budgetary difficulties – while contending with the unnecessary cuts imposed by sequestration, and even the personal hardships brought on by a government shutdown.

Despite these obstacles, the award recipients before me – and your colleagues throughout the Civil Division – have achieved extraordinary results.  You’ve made your country, your Department – and this Attorney General – proud.  And you have risen to the most pressing challenges of our time, confronting some of the most significant and complex legal issues this Department has faced.

Many of your successes have been covered extensively by the press.  Others have received less public fanfare, but are no less critical to the operations of the federal government or the well-being of your fellow citizens.  From the attorneys and contractors who sift through endless document, record, and data collections in search of crucial evidence; to the paralegals and other support staff members who work late into the night to assist in emergency filings; to the technology experts who address daily concerns and keep this Division working smoothly – every part of this team is essential to its overall mission.  And every one of your contributions exemplifies the most rigorous standards of professionalism, reflects the highest integrity – and embodies the very best of what it means to be a public servant.

Of course, I recognize that this hasn’t been easy.  And I know you’ve been called upon, on many occasions, to spend long hours in the office, sacrificing time with family and friends in order to advance the critical work with which the American people have entrusted us.  So I want you to know how much President Obama and I value your extraordinary work ethic, your surpassing commitment to the mission we share, and your collective dedication to the ideals that have always defined the Department of Justice.  I consider it a tremendous honor to count each of you as a colleague – and to serve alongside you as we strive, in every case and circumstance, to fight for the interests of the United States – and to see that justice is done.

Before we begin our formal awards presentations, I’d like to take a moment to congratulate Frankie Free on receiving this year’s Stanley Rose Memorial Award, in recognition of his distinguished service to our country over the last 23 years.  Thank you, Frankie, for all that you do.

I’d also like to recognize Robert Kirshman and Mary Mason, the recipients of this year’s Michael Hertz Memorial Award, for their outstanding work.  Like many of you, I had the privilege of working with Mike Hertz during his nearly four-decade-long career here at the Department.  And although we lost him last year – far too soon – I am deeply gratified to know that the spirit of excellence that defined his work will live on not only in the award that bears his name, but in the efforts of all who continue the tradition of service he established.

It’s clear, as we come together today, that your work has in some ways never been more challenging. But it’s also never been more important.  That’s why, as we pause to reflect upon your successes – and to celebrate the achievements of the award recipients who have gone above and beyond the call of duty – we also must recommit ourselves to carrying this work into the future.  We must resolve to keep building on the momentum that each of you has set in motion.  And we must never stop reaching for, and working toward, the better and brighter future that all of our citizens deserve – a future founded on the enduring promise of equal justice for all.

I congratulate you, once again, on these prestigious and well-deserved awards.  I thank you for everything that you do.  And I urge you to keep up the great work.

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