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Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Memorial Service for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime J. Zapata


Brownsville, TX
United States

I am honored to be with you. And I am grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute to the extraordinary courage and contributions that defined – and distinguished – the life of Special Agent Jaime Zapata.

Agent Zapata was a remarkable man.

He was a loving son to his parents – Amador and Mary. He was dedicated to his brothers – Amador, Carlos, Jose, and William. He was devoted to his fiancé, Stacey – and to his friends, his colleagues, and to his country.

Like so many others who serve this nation in law enforcement, Agent Zapata could have chosen an easier path through life. But he was always drawn to public service – and to the work of protecting his fellow citizens and defending America’s security. And he was willing to give what Abraham Lincoln called that “last full measure of devotion” to the nation that he loved – and to the struggle for peace and the cause of justice, within and beyond our borders.

To law enforcement agents and officers like Agent Zapata, that willingness to sacrifice is an offering that they make, each day, to the public they have sworn to serve and protect. These brave men and women faithfully, and quietly, answer danger with courage, and threats with a silent resolve, never asking for the thanks that we – too often – forget to offer.

Agent Zapata’s story is one that we must not forget. And it’s one that we won’t. He was a hero in every sense of the word, a man whose acts of valor are a testament to what is best about our country and our national – and international – law enforcement community.

On behalf our nation’s Justice Department, and our colleagues across government and law enforcement, we will continue to stand – just as Agent Zapata did throughout his life – shoulder-to-shoulder with our international partners – and, in particular, with our Mexican counterparts, to serve people in need and in harm’s way and to fight those who would seek to impose their will through violence. We will win this struggle. This is my pledge to you.

I know that nothing can be said to undo this tragedy. There is nothing that can erase the pain we feel. There is nothing that can explain the senselessness of this loss.

However, as we join together to remember Agent Zapata with those who knew him best and loved him most, please know that you are not alone. May you feel the embrace of those around you and the bestowed honor of a grateful nation that mourns with you.

Agent Zapata may have made the ultimate sacrifice, but never let it be said that he died in vain. On his last day, as he had on so many other days, he was working to make two nations safer and our country more secure for all of us. He was working to protect public safety – and to promote peace – in a volatile, dangerous, and critically important area. And he was working to help our neighbors and allies in Mexico meet their responsibilities to those they serve and to build a nation that is a beacon of hope and opportunity – a place where all of Mexico’s people can live, not in fear, but in unity.

Those of us in law enforcement must – and will – make it our mission to carry on this work and, in Agent Zapata’s name, to fulfill this awesome task. We must, and we will, eradicate the scourge that claimed his life.

That is how we will honor Agent Zapata. That is how we will pay tribute to him. And that is how we will ensure that, even as his own shining light has been extinguished, his spirit will live on.

May our dear friend reside forever in our memories and in our work. And may God bless and keep him.

As we thank Special Agent Zapata, once more, for his service to our nation – let us also thank his family and friends for sharing him with us. Though our country will never be able to repay the debt it now owes you or truly ease the pain you now feel, we will strive – every day – to measure up to the example that Agent Zapata set and will forever inspire.

May he rest in peace.

Updated August 18, 2015