Thank you, Mark [Moon], for your kind words and for the support that you and your colleagues have provided to make this day a reality. I also want to recognize and thank Craig [Floyd] and his team, as well as the Memorial Fund’s Board of Directors and many supporters, for their leadership, hard work, and commitment to the vision that the National Law Enforcement Museum will fulfill.
I am proud to be a part of this celebration. And I am honored to gather with so many partners, public servants, and distinguished guests as we break ground on a center that will become a place of learning and healing, of reflection and inspiration.
But, this morning, we are brought together by more than the institution we are building. We are also joined by a shared commitment to helping our fellow citizens better understand, and more fully appreciate, the critical work of our nation’s law enforcement community.
When the National Law Enforcement Museum opens in 2013, it will tell a story that no other museum does – of more than three centuries of law enforcement officers protecting their fellow citizens, advancing the cause of justice, and establishing a tradition of service that continues to keep us safe.
In addition to sharing these collective achievements, this new museum will highlight the contributions of individual heroes – and honor the 20,000 law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice to help and protect others.
As words etched into this memorial remind us, “It is not how these officers died that made them heroes. It is how they lived.” In a way that will be unique to the National Law Enforcement Museum, visitors will be able to discover “how they lived” by exploring interactive crime exhibits, a model “Academy,” a state-of-the-art history section, and a new Hall of Remembrance.
We will be able to step into the shoes of dispatchers, police officers, and detectives – from the distant dawn of the 18th Century to the demanding days of the 21st. We will see the story of the traffic cop who ran into the path of an oncoming train to save a small child – and the emergency responder who raced through gunfire to protect his fellow officers from danger. We will learn about the agents who risked their lives to fight organized crime in the 1920s and 1930s – and the officers who, after seeing airplanes crash into the World Trade Center on September 11th, sprinted toward the victims – toward the fire – even when they knew there was almost no chance of walking away.
With this new museum, recognition of a profession that has defined our nation’s history will help to guide America’s future, pointing the way toward the progress we must achieve. And I expect that here – at this spot where we break ground today – future generations of officers will be inspired.
This Center will also stand as a tribute to those we’ve lost – those whose names we’ve added to these marble stones over the last two decades – and to the nearly one million local, state, and federal law enforcement officers who currently serve our nation. Each day, as these men and women carry out their sworn duties, risk is a constant companion. No one understands that better than the many officers and family members here today – the fathers and sons, brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters, friends and colleagues – who give and sacrifice so much for the safety of the American people and for the sake of the most vulnerable among us.
With this new museum, your work will be shared and celebrated, taken to a new level, and taken up by the next generation.
Once again, I want to recognize the commitment, vision, and tireless effort that led to this special day. As our nation’s Attorney General, as the brother of a retired Port Authority officer, as a lifelong admirer of law enforcement, and, simply, as an appreciative American citizen – I look forward to the opening of what will be one of our nation’s greatest tributes to one of its greatest treasures: the devoted men and women in uniform who keep this nation safe and who make us all so proud.