After a solemn reading of their names, President Bush on Friday honored the public safety officers who gave their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 by presenting their families with the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor.
"The 442 names you just heard belong to men and women of uncommon valor and decency and honor," said President Bush. "On one of the worst days our country has ever witnessed, we witnessed the courage of some of the finest people our country has ever produced. And their sacrifice will always be remembered."
The complete White House transcript of President Bush's remarks follows:
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Welcome to the White House. Laura and I are honored that you're here today. We recognize a group of Americans whose bravery and commitment to their fellow citizens showed us the true meaning of heroism.
The 442 names you just heard belong to men and women of uncommon valor and decency and honor. On one of the worst days our country has ever witnessed, we witnessed the courage of some of the finest people our country has ever produced. And their sacrifice will always be remembered.
I want to thank the Attorney General. I welcome members of the United States Congress and the United States Senate who have joined us -- Bill Frist, Senator Schumer, Congressman Fossella, Congressman Crowley. By the way, thank you for bringing your mother. Congressman Wolf, Congressman Smith, Congressman King, Congressman McCarthy, Congressman Israel. I want to thank Ray Kelly, the Police Commissioner of the great city of New York. (Applause.) I thank all the fire chiefs, police chiefs, and Port Authority personnel. I particularly want to thank the men and women who are on the front line of making us safe -- thank you all for coming today. (Applause.)
The 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor honors the public safety officers who gave their lives on September the 11th. On that day, firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, Port Authority personnel and other public safety officers performed their jobs with extraordinary distinction in the face of unspeakable terror.
We're grateful to the families and friends who have come here to honor their memory. We know that the sense of loss you feel does not disappear with time. Four years later, you still miss your loved ones. America admires your courage in the face of such terrible pain. And your loved ones will always have the thanks and admiration and respect of a grateful nation.
When America has been challenged, there has always been citizens willing to step forward and risk their lives for the rest of us. Over the last 11 days in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama, we have again seen acts of great compassion and extraordinary bravery from America's first responders. Firefighters and police, and U.S. Coast Guard men and women, and National Guardsmen and active duty forces, disaster and medical assistance teams, search and rescue units from all over the United States have descended on the Gulf Coast to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. They have faced the storm's destruction with valor and determination, and their hard work has saved lives in the face of great adversity.
We're still at the beginning of a huge effort. The tasks before us are enormous. Yet so is the heart of the United States. We're grateful to the emergency personnel -- (applause.) We are grateful to the emergency personnel who are working to assist victims and restore communities affected by this disaster. In these difficult days, we have again seen the great strength and character and resolve of America. And we will continue to work to help the people who are struggling.