Biden Stresses Need For ‘Safety Of American People’ In Medal Of Valor Ceremony

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Diana Glebova White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden honored nine police officers and firefighters with the Medal of Valor on Wednesday, bestowing upon them the highest U.S. award for public service officials, and stressed the value of ensuring safety.

“There’s no greater responsibility of government than to ensure the safety of American people and those who serve and protect us all,” Biden said during the ceremony.

“We’re going to have your back as long as we need to. As long as you’re engaged,” the president added.

The recipients included three NYPD officers and three FDNY firefighters, as well as a Houston police officer, a Colorado police official and an Ohio sheriff’s deputy.

Two of the NYPD officers, Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera, were honored posthumously. They lost their lives after putting themselves in the line of fire to protect a mother and her son from a gunman in their home. The officers were shot multiple times in an ambush and died from their injuries. (RELATED: Second NYPD Officer Dies From Injuries Sustained During Harlem Ambush)

Detective Sumit Sulan, the third NYPD officer honored, got the civilians on the scene to safety and struck the gunman 45 seconds into the episode.

US President Joe Biden awards the Medal of Valor to Firefighter Patrick Thornton, of the New York City Fire Department, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 17, 2023. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

The three New York firefighters included Lieutenant Justin Hespeler, who ran into a burning building and risked his life to rescue a burning baby, Lieutenant Jason Hickey, who went through life threatening obstacles to rescue a man from the Harlem river and firefighter Patrick Thornton, who saved a man trapped under a capsized boat.

Biden also honored Corporal Jeffrey Farmer from Colorado, Deputy Bobby Pham of Ohio and Sergeant Kendrick Simpo of Texas.

Farmer saved the life of a fellow wounded officer, despite suffering injuries himself. Pham dove into water to save a drowning woman despite not knowing how to swim, while Simpo confronted and tackled a man who was carrying rifle in a mall and appeared ready to shoot.