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  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Director’s Community Leadership Awards
  • Washington, D.C.
  • March 16, 2012

Remarks prepared for delivery

Thank you, Mike. Good afternoon, and welcome to FBI Headquarters. It is my privilege to be here today as we pay tribute to you—our friends and partners—for your efforts to improve our communities across the nation.

A special welcome to the friends and families who have joined us here. Your support and sacrifices have played such an important role in the success of today’s honorees. I know you are proud of their accomplishments, and rightly so.

Since 1990, we have presented these awards to remarkable leaders from across the nation. Each year, the work we recognize is as varied as each of the diverse communities you serve.

In spite of this, you are not so different. Yes, you represent citizens of different backgrounds and beliefs who face a diverse set of challenges. But you share a vision for the future—a vision of hope, peace, and justice.

You share a willingness to lead…a commitment to improving your neighborhoods…and a desire to make this country safer for your fellow citizens.

You need only open a newspaper, browse the web, or turn on a television to be overwhelmed with reports of crime, terrorism, drugs, and violence. But you do not need to be told that our communities confront these challenges; you see it firsthand. And unlike countless others, you are taking action.

You are catalysts for change in your communities, and what you are doing is nothing short of remarkable.

You are educating communities about crimes against children, human trafficking, and cyber bullying.

You are helping law enforcement fight financial crimes and teaching businesses about cyber security.

You are combating gang violence and radicalization. You are making it possible for young men and women to attend college.

Some of your efforts sprang forth from personal tragedy. Others of you were motivated by violence in your communities or by the poverty and the pain of your fellow citizens. But the underlying reasons that propelled you to step forward and lead are the same.

You are all determined to create a safer world for our children. You are all dedicated to protecting our neighborhoods from crime and violence. And you are all devoted to upholding the rule of law and defending the freedoms we cherish.

We in the FBI share those goals. But we know that we cannot achieve them alone. We need the experience and the expertise of many partners.

Through your work, you are building bridges between the FBI and the communities we serve. And in doing so, you are helping us fight crime and terrorism. You are helping us keep your communities safer.

Whether you are part of a large organization or whether you volunteer your time and talent on an individual basis, you are making a lasting impact on those around you.

When I think of the work you are doing, I am reminded of a speech given by our former attorney general, Robert Kennedy, in 1966 on a trip to South Africa.

Speaking to students at the University of Cape Town, he said: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot for others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forward a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Each one of you has sent forward those tiny ripples of hope time and time again. You are helping to build that current that will one day sweep down walls not only of oppression and resistance, but of ignorance, poverty, injustice, and unfairness.

Thank you for all you do for your communities and for law enforcement. Thank you for your vision, your commitment, and your leadership. Above all, thank you for your partnership and your friendship. It is a privilege to serve you, and an honor to serve beside you.

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