Attorney General Merrick B. Garland at the Medal of Valor Ceremony, which was held at the White House on May 17, 2023.

The Medal of Valor is the nation’s highest award for public service officers who have shown extraordinary valor above and beyond the call of duty.

The speech honored nine individuals who were nominated for their acts of bravery and heroism in 2021 and 2022, two of whom died in the line of duty.

The speech also thanked the families and loved ones of the honorees, as well as all public safety officers across the country, for their service and sacrifice.

The speech concluded by introducing President Biden, who conferred the awards to the recipients.


Good morning. Please be seated. Thank you.

Today, we recognize a group of heroes deserving of our nation’s highest award for public service officers: the Medal of Valor.

These extraordinary individuals were nominated by public safety leaders from across the country because of their acts of bravery and heroism in 2021 and 2022.

I am grateful to the Justice Department’s Medal of Valor Review Board, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and Office of Justice Programs for their review and recommendations of this year’s recipients.

And I am honored to be here alongside President Biden as he confers these awards.

The nine individuals we recognize today have demonstrated “extraordinary valor above and beyond the call of duty” while acting to save or protect another person’s life.

They have acted with great courage, and at great risk to themselves. 

They have shown uncommon decisiveness and presence of mind. 

Two of them made the ultimate sacrifice – giving their lives in service to their communities.

To the families and loved ones of Detectives Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera:

We know it is impossible to understand the grief you endure, or to fully comprehend your loss.

You have our deepest condolences and our unending gratitude. Through our work to keep our communities safe, we will honor the legacies of Detectives Mora and Rivera.

And to all of the family members and loved ones who are with us today – thank you for supporting these heroes as they have pursued their careers in public safety.

At the end of every shift, you are there. It is your care and encouragement that makes it possible for our public safety officers to do their jobs. 

We are so grateful to you.

Every day, in communities across the country, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency services officers are asked to respond to our most difficult moments.

And every day, without hesitation, you answer the call.

You are on the frontlines of our nation’s most pressing public safety challenges.

And you are the Justice Department’s indispensable partners in our shared work to keep our communities safe.

From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of the entire Department of Justice – thank you.

I am now honored to introduce President Biden, who will confer these well-deserved awards.

Thank you, Mr. President, for bringing us together today, and for your support of the extraordinary heroes who keep our communities safe.

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