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Michael B. Mukasey, Attorney General
Department of Justice

Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Reception
Washington, DC
December 12, 2007

Good afternoon, and welcome to the Department of Justice.

I want to thank you for joining me today. It’s been an extraordinary day already. You have met with the President in the Oval Office and heard his expressions of gratitude. Let me assure you that any feelings of awe you experienced standing in that storied room talking to the leader of the most powerful country in the world, were shared and then exceeded by his own admiration for your accomplishments.

I, too, am very humbled. It is difficult to meet with words what you have given through your brave acts. “Words pay no debts,” as Shakespeare said. And we do owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude.

My years of public service, first as a prosecutor, then as a judge, and now as Attorney General, have strengthened my belief that the job of protecting America’s citizens is a true calling, and the most solemn and important responsibility an individual in our society can be given. The actions of those we honor today affirm that belief.

Officer Kevin Howland affirmed it when, after being pinned between two vehicles, he ran down four armed robbery suspects on an injured leg.

Firefighter David Loving affirmed it when he used his bare hands to tear through an overturned mobile home and rescue a trapped victim, moments before the vehicle burst into flames.

Officer Todd Myers affirmed it when he risked his own life to pull crash victims from their cars while gas tanks exploded around him.

Sergeant Kirk Van Orsdel affirmed it when he faced down a reckless gunman armed with an assault rifle in three successive gun battles.

And Firefighter Brian Rothell, who could not be with us today, affirmed it when he saved a man who outweighed him by 85 pounds from falling 50 feet into a river.

None of these men sought to be heroes, yet “heroic” is the only word to describe what each of them did. In a line of work where courageous acts can be part of one’s daily duties, these extraordinary men set themselves apart through deeds of incredible self-sacrifice. The honor we confer upon you with the Medal of Valor reflects our undying gratitude.

On behalf of President Bush and the American people, I congratulate you all.

Now it’s my pleasure to hand out certificates of commendation to each of our honorees.

Could we have a group photo now?

Thank you all once again.

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