It is truly a privilege to be here with all of you, to remember Sam Hicks and to celebrate his life.
I had the honor of speaking at Sam’s funeral in Baltimore. And although it was one of the most difficult days of my FBI career, it was also one of the most moving.
The cathedral was filled to capacity. The streets of Baltimore were shut down so the police procession could roll through. The color guard stood at attention, and helicopters flew overhead in the “missing man” formation.
There is nothing quite like seeing the law enforcement community come together to give a final salute to a fallen officer. It was united in its sorrow and in its support for Sam’s family, friends, and colleagues. And it was powerful to behold.
But most of all, it was a testament to Sam Hicks, who deserved the recognition in death that he never sought in life.
As I said at Sam’s funeral, I was not fortunate enough to know Sam personally. But I have been able to catch a glimpse of the man you all knew and loved over the past several weeks, through the stories of his family, friends, and colleagues.
Over and over, Sam was described as “the best.” The best friend, the best agent, the best police officer, the best husband, the best father.
Sam was the consummate professional. Though he was too humble to tell his FBI colleagues, he was named “Officer of the Year” when serving with the Baltimore Police Department. He had a talent for law enforcement, regardless of his assignment. Though he specialized in narcotics cases, he picked up intelligence skills immediately when he was assigned to Pittsburgh ’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
As one of his colleagues said, within weeks of starting his new job, Sam not only had the most sources, he had the best sources. His work was always of the highest quality, because Sam would not settle for anything less.
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.
Those of you who worked with Sam saw that up close. He was dedicated to his job, and was happiest when he was out on the street, working cases. Sam was always happy to trade in the stereotypical dark suit and white shirt for jeans and a hat. And, of course, that “soul patch” he wore on his chin. But although Bob Johnson gave him a hard time about it, Sam was so good at his job that he let him get away with it.
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 in the morning was coming home at night to Brooke and Noah. Sam wanted to be the best possible husband and father. And in that, too, he succeeded.
Brooke, no matter how much we mourn Sam, it is you and Noah and your family who feel his loss most deeply. He is an unforgettable part of the FBI. But to you, he is more than that. He is irreplaceable. We hope you can take some comfort in knowing that you are—and always will be—part of the FBI family.
And may we all take some comfort in knowing that Sam died doing what he loved. He died arresting a criminal. This is what we in law enforcement do. It was what Sam did on his last day. And it is what we will do tomorrow, next week, next year.
And by doing so, we will continue Sam’s legacy. To Sam, law enforcement was more than a mere profession. It was a calling. As Sam’s sister Emily said: “It was so much more than just a badge to him.”
It is more than a badge to all of us as well. Sam lived out the FBI’s motto, and so must we. Sam considered himself privileged to be able to serve his community and protect his country, and so should we.
Our sorrow is still sharp, and our grief is still near. But though our hearts ache, may we take comfort in knowing that we have the chance to carry on Sam’s work. That is the highest tribute we can pay to Sam.
But it is not the only tribute. Back at Headquarters and in every field office, there is a Hall of Honor, where the names of fallen agents are inscribed.
In time, we will add Sam’s name to that wall. And when we look up and see it, we will remember him always as a dedicated agent and a devoted husband. We will remember him as a loving father and a loyal friend. We will remember him as a committed public servant and a courageous man.
Sam’s name is carved also on our hearts. He has left an indelible imprint on our lives, no matter how well we knew him, no matter if we knew him at all. He has given us a lasting gift in his example of service over self, courage over complacency, faith over fear.
I want to close with the words from an old British hymn of patriotism, which sum up Sam’s love of his family, of the FBI, and of the country he served so well:
“The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.”
Sam embodied that love. And he inspired that love. We are all blessed to have been touched by that love.
We are grateful for the final sacrifice he made, and we will always honor it. Sam truly was “the dearest and the best.” And he will never be forgotten.
# # #
Executive Speeches | Press