May 16, 2016
President Barack Obama awarded the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor to slain Philadelphia Police Sgt. Robert Wilson III at an 11 a.m. ceremony Monday at the White House.
Wilson, who was killed in the line of duty in March 2015, was one of 13 public safety officers recognized and the only one of the honorees to have lost his life in the line of duty.
Wilson's grandmother, Constance Wilson, accepted the medal from the president.
Every one of the recipients acted without regard for his or her personal safety, he said, and none of the officers sought out the situations.
He also recognized their families.
"We know that you wait up late counting up the minutes until your loved ones come home," Obama said. He then gave special mention to Wilson, who did not come home, but died in the line of duty.
Obama spoke briefly about the incident that led to Wilson's death, noting that Wilson had entered the GameStop store to purchase a video game for his son.
"Please know how deeply sorry we are for your loss," Obama said to Wilson's family, who attended the ceremony, "and how grateful we are for Sgt. Wilson's service."
The Medal of Valor was created by Congress in 2001 to honor public safety officers who risk their lives to protect citizens and communities. It is awarded annually, and recipients are public safety officers, including law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency services officers, as determined by the U.S. attorney general.
"If they had their way," the president said of the 2016 honorees, "none of them would have to be here today, but I am very grateful that they are."
Obama ended Monday's speech by saying that the nation has a responsibility to support and listen to those who serve, and he'll keep pushing for bipartisan legislation to make the criminal justice system smarter and fairer.
"We want you to know we couldn't be prouder of you," Obama said, "and we could not be prouder of your families for all the sacrifices they make."