Home News Speeches Honoring Those Who Died in the Line of Duty
  • Bruce Gebhardt
  • Deputy Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Memorial Ceremony
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • May 06, 2004

Good morning. It is wonderful to be back in Phoenix, and I am honored to be here today with so many that make up America's finest law enforcement community.

Today, we gather to honor the memory of men and women from across law enforcement who dedicated their lives to serving and protecting our nation. Those whose names we will hear today were our friends and partners, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. They were also true professionals we worked with and counted on each and every day. Their hard work, their dedication, and most importantly, their friendship, made our jobs and our lives more meaningful.

The Agents and officers we remember today came from different agencies – the FBI, the DEA, the ATF, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the State of Arizona. They came from different backgrounds. But they were bound by common values. Courage. Sacrifice. And service.

They were bound also by a common vocation, which was more than just a job, or a career, or a profession. They lived so that when wrong was done, justice would be served. They lived to protect children from predators, to eradicate drug trafficking, to track down dangerous fugitives, to keep illegal guns off our streets, to bring justice to victims, to make our communities and our nation safer. Like so many of you here today, they chose to serve as agents and officers of the law, as guardians of freedom.

They lived to make a difference in this world. And they died as they lived – defending freedom, safeguarding peace, and preserving justice.

Their deaths remind us that we must never take our safety for granted, and that our cherished freedoms do not come without a price. The sacrifices of these men and women are the reasons we continue to live in a nation of freedom and opportunity. Their deaths serve as a vivid reminder of why we do the jobs we do. We are privileged – and proud – that these heroes chose to stand beside us. We will always remember and be inspired by the example they have given us. Their spirit remains, like a handprint on our hearts.

In a few moments, we will hear the names of those who have fallen in the line of duty. We will place wreaths in their honor. And we will seek to find meaning in our loss. During this difficult time, we can find comfort in the words of two great presidents. Theodore Roosevelt said, "It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly...who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat."

The credit he spoke of belongs to each and every Agent and officer we honor today. They dared greatly. They knew the great enthusiasms and devotions, and they spent themselves in a cause worthy of their character. But the credit belongs also to you. You are carrying on their life's work – and this is the highest honor we can pay to law enforcement, our friends, our loved ones.

On the battlefield at Gettysburg, 141 years ago, Abraham Lincoln said, "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion."

Today, as we honor our fallen Agents and officers, let us also rededicate ourselves to their high ideals and great devotion. Let us live out their legacy of courage, sacrifice, and service; fidelity, bravery, and integrity. Let us recommit ourselves to defending freedom, guarding peace, and preserving justice. I cannot think of a more fitting tribute.

Thank you and God bless you.

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