Justice News

Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks at the Medal of Valor Ceremony
Washington, DC
United States
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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Good afternoon and thank you all for being here.

I want to thank President Trump for hosting today’s ceremony and for once again presenting these awards in person. I’m told that President Trump is the first president to personally present these awards three years in a row. I think that speaks volumes about this administration’s unwavering support for law enforcement officers and first responders.

The Medal of Valor is this nation’s highest and most prestigious award for public safety officers.  Out of all of the first responders who serve every day across this country, only about a dozen receive this honor each year.

All first responders do noble work, and all of them deserve our respect and our appreciation. But some have performed heroic acts of service that deserve to be singled out for recognition by the entire nation. These are the actions we celebrate today.

The men we honor this afternoon came from every corner of this nation and from a wide variety of backgrounds. But they all share the same spirit of love for their communities and a willingness to sacrifice of themselves.

They were nominated by their police chiefs and fire chiefs and then recommended by a review board of fellow first responders. Several of the review board members are here today, and I want to thank them for their participation in this process.

Today’s award recipients have earned the respect of their peers and been chosen by people who know firsthand just how difficult their work really is.

Every Medal of Valor recipient has confronted life-threatening danger. Each had their fight-or-flight moment. But each one stood their ground for our safety.

We hold them up as examples to other first responders — and to all Americans.

As we honor the recipients who are here today, we especially remember two of this year’s recipients who gave their lives in the line of duty: Officer Verdell Smith of Memphis and Officer Brent Thompson of Dallas. They gave their lives so that others might live. On behalf of the Department of Justice, I’d like to offer my condolences to their families, friends, and fellow officers.

Their example shows us how honorable it is to be a first responder — and that there are some causes worthy of risking one’s life.

This afternoon I’m reminded of something that President John F. Kennedy once said: that “a nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”

In these heroes we honor today, the greatness of this nation shines forth.

And so, to all of the recipients: thank you for dedicating your lives to this noble work — and may God bless you.

Updated May 22, 2019