Major Executive Speeches

Robert S. Mueller, III, Director, FBI
National Congress of American Indians
Albuquerque, New Mexico
November 20, 2003

Good morning, and thank you, Commander Loesch, for that kind introduction. Thank you all for joining us.

We owe a special thanks to American Legion Post 56 for organizing and holding this annual Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony. This is a special day for all of us at the Bureau, and the efforts of Post 56 make this a truly memorable event every year.

It is fitting that we all come together here in the Courtyard today for this Memorial Day observance. I say this because the connection between the Bureau and our armed forces has always been strong.

We in the FBI are tremendously proud to have so many veterans and reservists as part of our family. We are proud of the sacrifices you have made for our country when you have put on your uniform.

But this bond goes beyond the military service of FBI employees. It exists in the call to serve that is steeped in the culture of both the armed forces and the Bureau.

We serve for the same reasons. We love our country. We love that it stands for freedom, not tyranny; liberty, not subjugation; justice, not injustice.

We also understand that the liberties we enjoy in this country have not come to us easily, and we are prepared to make sacrifices to maintain them. Sometimes, that means making the ultimate sacrifice.

Two weeks ago, we memorialized the members of the law enforcement community who gave their lives in the line of duty at the Blue Mass at St. Patrick = s Church in Washington. Today, we memorialize those members of the FBI family who gave their lives in the line of military duty.

At the first Memorial Day commemoration in 1868, James Garfield, who was a Civil War general before he became President, addressed 5,000 participants at Arlington National Cemetery with these words:

A I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here beside the graves of 15,000 men whose lives were more significant than speech and whose death was a poem the music of which can never be sung. @

What was true then is true now -- words are not adequate for what we remember today. We come together on Memorial Day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country. Roughly 42 million Americans have served in the military in a time of war. Approximately 1.2 million never came home.

And though our words can never match their deeds, we cannot let this day pass in silence.

From Arlington National Cemetery to our smallest towns, millions and millions of Americans will gather for ceremonies and parades. We will honor all who have fallen in battle to preserve our way of life, and we will say proudly as a nation: we remember.

For 55 years, the entire FBI family, led by Post 56, has remembered as well. Today we honor the FBI employees and the members of the FBI family killed in the line of military duty by placing a wreath in the Courtyard.

This simple act delivers the deepest tribute. There is a price for freedom, but this sacrifice is not in vain. These men and women lived to defend freedom and protect their fellow citizens. By doing so, they have secured the blessings of liberty for us. With this wreath, we do remember, and thank them for all they have done.

I would like to thank all of you again for attending this ceremony today and extend our gratitude to Post 56 for organizing the wreath laying.

As we depart for our long Memorial Day weekend, let us keep our current defenders, those serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere throughout the world, in our thoughts and prayers.

And let us never forget the individuals we honor here today and all those who have laid down their lives in defense of this country. Ours is a debt that can never be repaid, but must always be honored. We owe it to those individuals and we owe it to this country to do so.

Thank you.