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Press Release

U.S. Attorney McSwain Delivers Keynote Address at the FOP Lodge 5 Luncheon Following Living Flame Memorial Service

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – On May 1, 2019, United States Attorney William M. McSwain delivered the keynote address at a luncheon honoring the families of fallen Philadelphia police officers and firefighters.  The luncheon, hosted by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, immediately followed the Living Flame Memorial Service, an annual event honoring the men and women who lost their lives in service to the City.  U.S. Attorney McSwain was invited to speak, and introduced by, Lodge #5 President, John McNesby.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery 

Thank you, John, for that kind introduction, for your friendship, and for your many years of dedicated leadership of the FOP.  I am grateful for the partnership that you have helped to foster between my Office and the Philadelphia Police Department.  I also want to thank the FOP’s Executive Leadership for your work in organizing today’s event.  It is an honor to be here with all of you on this important day of remembrance.  Police Commissioner Ross and Fire Commissioner Thiel, you are both trusted friends and I want to thank you for your service and for your partnerships with my Office.  I know I speak for everybody in my Office when I say that your rank-and-file members are the best law enforcement partners any prosecutor could ask for.

When I was at the Living Flame Memorial earlier today, I thought about what that light represented, which is each life that has been lost.  And I thought about the purpose of the event: to pay tribute to those who are missing from this crowd – those police officers and firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice; those who gave their lives so that their fellow citizens could be safe and their communities secure. 

And it’s also a day to pay tribute to, and to support, each of you – the family and friends of these heroes.  We can never repay the debt that we owe to the fallen officers and firefighters and to their family members.  But what we can do is promise that we will work hard every day to make sure that the sacrifices you and your loved ones have made on behalf of this great City will never be forgotten.  And together we will keep their memories alive.

Public service is a noble calling, but the kind of public service we remember and celebrate today is truly special:  the kind where brave men and women put on their uniform every day in the knowledge that they may have to risk – and even give – their lives to protect others.  In doing so, they show their love for their community and their fellow citizens.  It is a powerful, awe-inspiring form of love because it is so generous and selfless.  It takes an extraordinary person to be willing to act in such a manner, to sign up for the job – and then to actually do it.  Such people are not takers, they are givers.  They don’t ask for much, if anything, in return.  But we must give them something.  We owe them something.

What we owe them – and their loved ones – is our sincere and solemn gratitude and support.  They have that – and you have that – from me and from every single member of my Office.  You also have that from the vast majority of your fellow citizens.  For example, just this past week, the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that, according to recent polling, the voters’ No. 1 issue was crime.  According to the voters in this City, it is the single biggest issue that city officials should be focused on – by far.  That means that the citizens of Philadelphia care deeply about the mission of the police and that they desperately need and want the police to aggressively investigate, punish, and deter crime. 

But what is upsetting to me – what bothers me to my core – is that there are public officials in this City who do not express the gratitude and support that the police deserve.  There are public officials in this City who in fact undermine the police and make their inherently difficult jobs even more difficult, if not impossible.  Those people do not understand and appreciate the sacrifices that you and your loved ones have made.  Those people do not understand and appreciate the dedication and bravery that makes you and your loved ones who you are.  Those people have no shame.  I say to you:  pay them no mind.  They are unworthy.

Instead, think of this:  think of how proud you are of your loved ones’ service.  Think of how proud they are, looking down on us today, for our gathering here in their honor, and for remembering, and promising to always remember.  And think of the love that binds you with them, and that binds you with this City.

In closing, I would like to leave you with one of my favorite Bible verses (from Galatians chapter 6, verse 9), because it sums up my feelings about today’s event and what it means.  In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”     

Thank you, and God Bless you all.

Updated May 2, 2019