It is my privilege to be here today to honor Paul Sorce: the man you have known for many years, as a husband, a father, a friend, and a colleague, and the man I have come to know over the past few days.
I have come to know Paul by learning about his life. A life of service to the FBI and to his country. A life filled with love for his friends and family. A life marked by a longstanding commitment to this community.
It has been said that the true measure of a man is the impact he had on those around him.
Perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “To laugh often and much…to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to find the best in others…to leave the world a bit better…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Looking around this room, it is clear that Paul succeeded beyond all measure. For this church is filled with the lives that have breathed easier because of Paul.
Paul always had a smile on his face. He was easy going and optimistic. No matter what was happening at home or at work, he was happy, because he knew what was important—his family, his community, and his faith. He had the ability to take life as it came. Few people can say the same.
Through his hard work and his humility, he held the respect of his FBI colleagues, and his law enforcement partners across the state of Michigan.
For more than 18 years, he put drug dealers and murderers behind bars. He worked side by side with his fellow agents and law enforcement officers to break up violent gangs, and to break down the walls that too often divide us, in law enforcement and in life.
Indeed, as one colleague from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms put it, he was “an agent’s agent, and a cop’s cop.”
He was a street agent to the core—one of the finest we had. Even when it wasn’t his case, he would be out there every day, and every night, helping in whatever way he could.
A fellow agent said that Paul was the first one he would have turned to if anything had happened to his own family, even though he knew that he would get stuck doing Paul’s paperwork in the end. For Paul, the administrative details always took a backseat to the action on the street.
As hard as Paul worked for the FBI, he worked even harder for his family, day by day, year after year.
He was a father who would come to work at 5:00 a.m., so that he could leave early to see a school play or a volleyball game…only to come back to burn the midnight oil with his squad.
Morgann, Alexis, PJ, and Jadyn, you may not fully remember what happens here today. If you remember nothing else, remember this room, filled with men and women who were proud to serve alongside your father; men and women who were proud to call him a friend.
He earned our affection, our admiration, and our respect, just as he earned yours.
Paul spent his days chasing down those who would do harm to this community. But he spent his life building up his family, his friends, and his neighbors.
He built up the lives of children, through his work with the Eagle Sports Club and with local schools.
Paul was an All-American football player, though most would never have known it given his quiet, peaceful demeanor. He instilled confidence and a sense of worth in every child. To them, he was simply “Coach.” That is what he did, and, indeed, who he was.
For them, “Coach” was ever ready with an easy smile, a helping hand, a strong shoulder, and, always, that perpetual optimism.
It has been said that all great things are simple, and most can be expressed in a single word. Love...hope…faith…duty...and honor.
Yet it is no simple thing to serve your community and your country. It is no simple thing to raise a family the right way, when you see the dark side of so many people. It is no simple thing to instill hope in those around you, to leave the world a better place. And yet in Paul’s simple way, he did just that.
We are reminded of an old poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay:
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind. Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
Today, we know. But we do not approve. And we are not resigned to losing Paul.
Those of us in law enforcement will remember Paul as he lived, bringing love and laughter to those around him. Bringing honor and pride to the FBI and the community he served. Bringing out the best in everyone he knew.
Today, we dedicate ourselves anew to the ideals Paul embodied. We dedicate ourselves to finding the inspiration he carried with him, each and every day.
Joy, you are not alone in missing your husband. Today, we all grieve…for our loss, for this community’s loss, and most especially, for your loss. But I am heartened as I have witnessed your deep faith, and the faith you have instilled in your children. You provide an example for us all.
Just as Paul was part of the FBI family, you—Morgann, Alexis, PJ, and Jadyn—are part of our family now.
May God bless Paul’s family, and each of you here today.
On behalf of the men and women of the FBI, I am proud to award Paul with one of our highest honors—the Memorial Star.
The inscription reads: “In honor of Special Agent Paul Sorce, who made the ultimate sacrifice on March 9, 2009. Special Agent Sorce suffered fatal injuries in an automobile accident while conducting surveillance in the Detroit, Michigan, area. This special recognition is presented in Special Agent Sorce’s memory and in tribute to his performance, which was in the highest traditions of the FBI.”
Joy, we present this to you and your family with our deep gratitude for sharing Paul with us.
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