Thank you, Rep. Gallego, for that introduction. It's an honor to be here today.
It's always an honor to be among those who have dedicated their lives to the safety of their fellow Texans - those who are here in person and those who live on in the memories of their loving families, their fellow officers and the lives of a grateful public.
Here in Texas, we're blessed with a dedicated community of individuals who step forward to stand between danger and their fellow citizens.
Whether that involves carrying a rifle on a battlefield in Afghanistan, fighting raging wildfires that threaten homes, businesses and livestock, patrolling our international border with Mexico, or walking a beat in a dangerous neighborhood, the work is risky and the hours are long, and the words "thank you" are heard all too infrequently.
That's why events like this are so important, they give us an opportunity to honor the members of the Texas law enforcement community who have been lost in the line of duty, and a chance to express our gratitude to all those who are still doing the job.
Throughout our state, our law enforcement officers are defined by their valor, placing themselves in harm's way to save the lives they've sworn to protect.
Everyone here knows our law enforcement officers are constantly at risk in the performance of their everyday duties, whether they're serving a warrant, rushing to the scene of an emergency or making a routine traffic stop.
Fact is, there's no such thing as "routine" to a law enforcement officer, and reminders of that simple fact can be found carved in stone on monuments and memorials throughout Texas, and carried in the hearts of families and friends who have lost loved ones to the cause they believed so much in.
Such dedication and sacrifice cannot be explained beyond a deep compassion for others, and a devotion to a higher cause.
As I'm sure you've all experienced, the rest of us don't say enough just how much we truly owe you.
Overwhelmed by work, obligations, various mundane problems - we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture.
That is, until we need you.
A crisis has a way of putting into focus what's really important, like family, friends and faith.
Surviving a crisis through the fast work of a paramedic, the steely courage of a firefighter, or the timely intervention of a police officer is like having your life given back to you again.
That's what our law enforcement officials do.
Through swift action and good old-fashioned police work, they take threats off the streets and work to minimize the damage these threats can do.
Put simply, they make a difference, in the purest sense, saving lives and making communities safer and better places to live.
In fact, even those of us who have never directly been affected by a crime owe a debt of gratitude to our law enforcement community.
I've said many times that Texas is the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family, and our officers play a key role in keeping it that way.
It's a hard truth that living a life of this kind of service sometimes carries a high cost - in some cases, the ultimate cost.
To those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty, I cannot possibly know the depths of your pain, but know that you have the unshakeable respect and heartfelt gratitude of this state.
As you move forward in life, know that you're in a world made safer and stronger by the contributions of your fallen loved one. Know that their life's work spared countless others from the type of pain you've experienced.
Know that they lived their lives in the most noble fashion possible, placing the lives of others above their own safety.
I can't think of a finer epitaph.
I thank you all again for this opportunity to share this day with you, and once again, on behalf of all Texans, I'd like to thank the brave men and women of our Texas law enforcement community, including all of you, for all you do for the Lone Star State.
May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.