Department of Justice Seal

Prepared Remarks of Acting Attorney General Peter Keisler at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Annual Wreathlaying Ceremony

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Good afternoon.

Today, with the simple but deeply solemn act of laying a wreath, we honor heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in the course of protecting our communities, our homes, and our families. We honor twenty officers who gave their lives in the line of duty.

The twenty officers honored today represent local law enforcement agencies, including police and sheriff offices in Virginia, DC and Maryland and a variety of federal law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, the Marshals Service, the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Coast Guard and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. The death of each of these officers is deeply felt by the communities they served and protected. And these deaths are also all individual tragedies, deeply felt by their families.

All the officers honored today are patriots who dedicated their lives to enforcing the laws of our great nation -- to giving concrete meaning to those words on paper. And this ceremony reminds us that the rule of law does not come cheap. It exacts a heavy toll on the men and women who serve, and the families whose love and support make that service possible. It exacts its heaviest toll when one of these patriots is lost.

Because we owe our safety, our prosperity, and the integrity of our system of government to these fallen officers, we remember and honor them.

This ceremony allows us to express our appreciation for those who go to work every day knowing that their names could someday be carved on this monument. The police officer, the special agent, the investigator, the first-responder -- each leaves his or her home every morning not knowing whether they will return to their family that night. It is in this quiet, daily sacrifice that the law enforcement officer displays such extraordinary devotion to community and to duty.

And it is the duty of those of us who benefit from that sacrifice and bravery to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their community, state, and country. I want to personally thank all of the law enforcement officers for their service and sacrifice.

To paraphrase Congress‘ 1962 Joint Resolution on Police Officers Memorial Day

No words can ease the pain of losing a father, mother, son or daughter. But I hope that the families and friends of those we honor today can take some measure of comfort in knowing that the sacrifices of their loved one are so deeply valued, that these men and women made a difference, and that we will never forget.