Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Good afternoon, honored guests, families, and friends – and colleagues at the Department of Justice.
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 67th Annual Attorney General’s Awards ceremony.
This is my fourth ceremony – I previously presided over two and was last a proud parent at one. And now I am delighted to be a part of this program.
It is an opportunity for all of us to express our appreciation for the exemplary work done by so many at the Department of Justice and by our partners in law enforcement.
There is no more important institution in our country than the Department of Justice. The law is the foundation of our society. We at the Department are the caretakers of the law.
This is a solemn duty. By upholding the law, we make possible the common life of our nation and the freedom, equality, safety, and progress that our fellow citizens should be able to enjoy.
I have long believed that there is no finer group than those who serve in the Department of Justice.
Our greatest strength in our fight for justice are our people – the thousands of men and women who have dedicated their careers, often at great personal sacrifice, to working for justice in America.
I think all of us at the Department feel privileged to work shoulder-to-shoulder with colleagues of such caliber and commitment.
Today’s awardees are really, in a sense, the tip of the iceberg. Choosing them from such a large, talented, and successful pool of candidates was incredibly difficult. The nominees went through many levels of review before the final recommendations came to me.
This means that we are honoring the individuals today because their work was truly exceptional. They deserve our recognition and gratitude.
At the same time, their work is also representative of the superb work done by their other colleagues at the Department and elsewhere in law enforcement. And I know that every one of today’s awardees would be the first to say that.
And so, this ceremony allows us all at the Department to come together, each year, to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of our teammates. Their commitment and professionalism command our respect, acknowledgement, and gratitude.
Today’s awardees, to pick just a few examples, have dismantled violent street gangs, taken down a vast international sex trafficking ring, and prosecuted members of the heinous MS-13 gang.
They have won the conviction of perhaps the world’s most notorious drug kingpin, El Chapo.
They have defended the nation against hostile foreign activities, and taken action to end fraud and abuse targeted at our senior citizens.
They have taken down a hideous operation in Philadelphia that had savagely preyed on mentally-handicapped individuals for a decade.
And, through a cooperative effort with our state and local partners – via Project Safe Neighborhood – they drove down violent crime by 15 percent in Newark, New Jersey.
As we reflect on the contributions of each of the 357 individuals we honor today, we should hold them up as examples of excellence that continue to inspire our own commitment, and also as reminders of the professionalism and qualities exhibited throughout the Department.
I mentioned the sacrifices that the honorees and their colleagues routinely make in the performance of their duties. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the sacrifices of their families.
The hardships your families endure – the long absences, the ever-present awareness of the risks your loved ones undertake – are testament to your own commitment to a society where the law will be enforced and your fellow citizens will be protected.
When we honor the awardees, we are also honoring you, their families. You deserve our respect and thanks, and we applaud you.
To all my colleagues at the Department of Justice, let me say that it is a privilege to serve with you. I will do all I can to support your work in advancing the cause of justice.
To all the awardees, congratulations and my profound thanks.