Our hearts are heavy today, as we come together to remember and to honor Special Agent Sam Hicks.
Days like this are among the hardest we face. We struggle to find meaning in the midst of tragedy. And we struggle even more to find words to do justice to a man who meant so much to so many.
I was not fortunate enough to know Sam personally. But through the stories of his family, his friends, and his co-workers, I have been able to catch a glimpse of Sam’s character.
And what a character it was.
Sam was something of a superhero. He was full of strength and energy. As one friend described it, Sam had a “command presence.” He never seemed to get tired. According to his squadmates, one second he was in a suit and tie behind his desk and the next second he was in jeans and a hat, out on the street.
And though he was always happy for a reason not to wear a suit, Sam was quite at home in a tuxedo. He may hold a world record for the number of times he was in a wedding party. And it will come as no surprise that most of the time Sam was the best man.
Sam was also the best man when it came to his job. Even when he was training at Quantico, it was clear that Sam would be an outstanding special agent. As one colleague said, “Sam just had a knack for the job.” And this was true regardless of his task.
Sam’s previous specialty was in narcotics cases, having worked countless such cases as a Baltimore police officer. But when he was assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, he picked up new skills immediately. Within weeks, he was considered the best on his squad. New task force members simply assumed he was a veteran agent.
Sam was unafraid to lead, but never sought the spotlight. He excelled at everything he tried. And he never stopped trying. He was always looking for the next opportunity, always willing to step outside his comfort zone to learn something new.
To Sam, it was not about building a resume or about getting recognition. He was motivated not by personal success, but by public service.
Over and over, Sam’s family and friends described him as extraordinary. They even had a nickname for him: “Saint Sam.” But Sam did not see himself that way. His achievements were matched only by his humility.
Few people knew that Sam was one of those rare minds to have mastered organic chemistry. Most of his colleagues were unaware he had been named “Officer of the Year” when serving with the Baltimore Police Department. And though he was considered by all his colleagues to be a rising star in the FBI, Sam often spoke of his amazement and disbelief at having achieved his dream of becoming a special agent.
Sam’s sister, Emily, remarked that, “it was so much more than just a badge to him.”
Sam believed the American people expected and deserved the best of every FBI employee. And that is what he gave, every moment of every day.
Sam died doing what he loved doing. He died arresting a criminal. This is what we in law enforcement do. It was what Sam did last Wednesday. And it is what we will do tomorrow, next week, next year.
It is true that Sam loved his job. But he loved his family more. The only thing that made him happier than coming to work was coming home to Noah and Brooke.
Sam’s devotion to his family was complete. His roommate at Quantico remembers how he would use photos of Brooke and Noah to mark his place in his book before turning out the light.
He talked about them all the time. He always had a new “Noah story” to share—a new milestone or a father-son adventure he had enjoyed. One of his favorite stories to tell was about Noah’s first walk in the snow last winter. Noah is just like his dad—once he discovered how much fun it was to play in the snow, he did not want to come back inside, no matter how cold he got.
Sam’s love for Brooke burned just as brightly. She was his world, and that was true from the first moment he met her.
The apostle Paul, as he approached the end of his life, wrote the following words: “I have fought the good fight; I have finished my race; I have kept the faith.”
None of us knows how long our race will be. Sam’s death reminds us that the men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line every day. Each morning when they pick up their badges, they know there is a possibility they might not make it home.
Yet they willingly accept that risk so that others will not have to. They fight the good fight so that we may live in peace.
Sam fought the good fight. And though his race was cut short far too soon, we know that he kept the faith. Tucked away behind Sam’s credentials was a folded-up piece of paper bearing a prayer to Saint Joseph, the patron saint of fathers and of departing souls. It is an ancient prayer for protection.
Sam knew the risks. He went to the front lines every day, but he wanted Noah to grow up to be a scientist, or a golfer—something that would not place him in danger. It is especially cruel that a man dedicated to protecting others from violence should become its victim.
Psalm 30 offers these words of comfort: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
For all those who loved Sam, joy will not come in the morning, nor for many mornings to come.
Today, we weep for Sam’s family, which has lost a cherished husband, a devoted father, a loving son, brother, uncle, and grandson. We weep for the FBI, which has lost one of its finest agents. And we weep for our nation, which has lost one of its bravest protectors.
Though our hearts ache, we trust that Sam awaits us in a better place. And until we meet again, may we all find joy in the example of a life lived to the fullest.
May Sam’s colleagues, friends, and family find joy in the memories they will carry with them.
May Noah find joy each winter, when the first snow falls.
And may Brooke find joy as she watches her son grow, knowing that Sam is forever present in Noah’s hands, his face, and his heart.
And as we lay Sam to rest and entrust his soul to God, may we find comfort in the words of Christ: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
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