Justice News

Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks at the Medal of Valor and Heroic Commendation Ceremony
Washington, DC
United States
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Monday, September 9, 2019

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Good morning everybody, and thank you for joining us today.

I’d like to thank President Trump for hosting this ceremony. And let me say that it is an honor to serve under a President who is so strongly a supporter of law enforcement and has the back of police officers and other first responders. Thank you, Mr. President.

We’ve come together to recognize the extraordinary actions of 11 fellow citizens. The President has chosen to honor five civilians from Texas who displayed an extraordinary degree of care for their fellow man, putting their own lives at risk. We will also honor six police officers from Ohio, who put themselves between a gunman and a crowd of innocent civilians.

For the people out in Dayton that night, these officers were the thin blue line between life and death. The actions of these six heroes show that while the line may be thin, it is very strong.

Established in 2001, the Medal of Valor is our nation’s highest public safety award. Officers across the nation are nominated by their peers, but only a handful are selected to receive this honor. Traditionally, this process occurs only once a year.

However, U.S. law permits the Attorney General to expand the total number of recipients when exceptional instances of bravery arise. So that’s what we did this year. For in my eyes, and in the eyes of our nation, this special recognition is warranted.

“Valor” is a word we don’t commonly hear. People can show courage and bravery confronting many different challenges in life. But “valor” connotes willingly putting oneself in mortal danger to protect others.

We humans have a powerful instinct to flee from peril. It takes a special kind of courage, a deep sense of duty, and extraordinary character to overcome these impulses and – for the sake of others – to run toward the danger. We thank God that, on that horrible night in Dayton, we had men with these qualities. 

As we honor the valor of these men, we must recognize that we cannot take them and their brother and sister in law enforcement for granted. Serving as a police officer is the toughest job in our country. As they put themselves on the line to keep us safe, they deserve our gratitude and support. 

We are grateful not just for the courage of the officers, but also of their families. We salute those families here today. You encounter long days and restless nights. Still, you endure them for all of us. Our very ability to live normal lives – to go to school, to go to work, and to pursue aspirations without fear – is only because of your sacrifice.

The brave actions of today’s honorees from Dayton and El Paso should awaken in all of us a new dedication to service and selflessness on behalf of our communities.

So God bless our heroes and their families, and thank you Mr. President for the opportunity to express our appreciation today.

Updated September 9, 2019