Vice President Joe Biden today recognized 18 public safety officers for exhibiting exceptional courage in a Medal of Valor ceremony at the White House. The Medal of Valor is the highest national award for valor by a public safety officer, and it is bestowed on those whose heroic actions were above and beyond the call of duty.
The Vice President, who was joined by Attorney General Eric Holder, highlighted the bravery of the men and women who were being honored, and paid tribute to the spouses of the recipients who had lost their lives in the line of duty. He also talked about the special qualities that are unique to those who put themselves in danger to save others:
My association with firefighters and police has been... the essence of my public life. And as many of these things that I do, I still grapple with what makes you do what you do? I’m just thankful that you do.
You can't explain it, but you know it when you see it. I see it in the shield over someone’s heart. I see it in the men and women who are sitting here before us today...Thank God for you. You’re from different backgrounds, but you’re the glue that literally binds communities together at times of stress. You’re that face that shows up for a woman on the second floor of a burning building just when she thinks it’s all over for her... The amazing thing about all of you is that the very things you do when you’re on duty to save people’s lives, you do when you're off duty. There’s no separation.