Department of Justice Seal

Prepared Remarks of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at the National Crime Victims' Rights Week Candlelight Observance

Washington, D.C.
April 19, 2007

Thank you. It is an honor to join you this evening as we remember the victims of crime.

Remembering is crucial for those of us in law enforcement. It reminds us that victims are the beloved children of parents -- parents like us. That victims are brothers and sisters, just like those in our families. They are moms and dads, husbands and wives. It's easy to talk about crime statistics or trends. But when we remember victims, we remember that behind those statistics are people--people just like us, and the ones we love--who are suffering. Many of you here tonight have experienced this firsthand—but you have been strong and you have worked hard to help remind us of the chaos that crime can cause.

Of course, the tragedy that struck the Virginia Tech community earlier this week is in all of our hearts and minds. We all feel a deep sorrow for the families that will never be the same. Our candles tonight burn in memory of those victims, along with all the others we carry in our hearts.

When those of us in public service see these tragedies our response must be more than words of comfort. You deserve more than that. We cannot solve every problem or prevent every crime—but we must never stop trying.

Because, like you, we remember the victims. Remembering is a part of mourning, and a part of healing.

Remembering is a part of action, too. When indignation and anger at a senseless crime fuels a determination to change the world—just enough so that another family will not suffer this way—we honor victims by joining memory with action.

I want to thank you for the work you have done to help us in our fight. Every time a victim or a survivor stands up during an investigation, or testifies during a trial, it emboldens the pursuit of justice. It takes courage, and it takes resolve, and sometimes it takes a lot of patience. But it makes a difference. And every time victims and advocates march up Capitol Hill to tell your stories, you help us all to remember the victims of crime. And you help provide the tools we need to keep our communities safe.

Last year we got a powerful new tool in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. That legislation greatly enhanced our ability to stop sexual predators who target our children. As the father of two young boys, and as Attorney General, I can tell you that nothing is more important to me than ensuring that our children are safe, whether from terrorists, pedophiles, violent gangs, or any other force that would mean them harm.

I have been awed and humbled in seeing how many of you, even with unspeakable loss, still find strength to fight -- to say, "No more." I think of my own sons and how devastating it would be to me if anything were to happen to them, and I wonder how anyone could have the strength to go on. But you do. And I want you to know that I've been inspired, as have all of us in law enforcement, by the courage of crime victims. Your example is central to all that we do.

Many people around the country have joined in our effort to keep others from becoming victims in the future, and I'm very pleased that one of those people is here tonight to be our keynote speaker.

Mark Lunsford's life was changed forever on February 24, 2005, when his nine year old daughter, Jessica, was taken from their home. A repeat sex offender named John Evander Couey confessed to kidnapping, raping, and murdering Jessica.

Mark responded to his grief with action. He has turned his pain into a powerful force to spare others from the heartache that he and his family suffered. He has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and fight for tougher laws, including Florida's Jessica Lunsford Act, and the Adam Walsh Act. I am grateful for his efforts, and I'm proud to have him as a partner in our fight. Please join me in welcoming Mark Lunsford.