WASHINGTON (WITI/AP) — A special salute to those who risk their lives to protect and serve. At a ceremony at the White House Wednesday, February 11th, 22 police officers and firefighters were awarded the nation's highest honor for first responders -- and two of the recipients are from Wisconsin.
Vice President Joe Biden says police and firefighters react instinctively without hesitation in emergencies to put other people's lives above theirs. He presented the Medal of Valor to these 22 police officers and firefighters at the White House Wednesday.
"Today we are recognizing people who are true heroes," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.
"You put your lives in a position where you put somebody else's life above yours," Vice President Joe Biden said.
This year's recipients include Brian Murphy and Sam Lenda, officers who responded to the shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek on August 5th, 2012.
"We honor you not just for your bravery, but for your professionalism, your commitment," Biden said.
On that Sunday in August, now-retired Oak Creek Police Lieutenant Brian Murphy and Officer Sam Lenda were the first to respond. Murphy was shot several times after confronting the gunman. Officer Lenda shot the suspect, who then turned the gun on himself.
Biden says their actions that day require a special kind of courage.
"All of you have been singled out because of your extraordinary devotion to duty, your heroism, which you don't consciously think about, you just...you just did," Biden said.
Six people were killed in the shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.
Wednesday's ceremony acknowledged those who committed acts of valor between 2011 and 2013. Two of the recipients were honored posthumously.
A total of 95 medals have been handed out since Congress created the award in 2001.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) released the following statement after two Oak Creek, Wisconsin officers were presented the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor:
“On behalf of the State of Wisconsin, I would like to commend Lieutenant Murphy and Officer Lenda on receiving the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor. Their selfless actions on that tragic day were nothing short of heroic. They represent the best of Wisconsin’s law enforcement community and I am grateful for their service and commitment to keeping our communities safe.”
CLICK HERE for further coverage of the Sikh Temple shooting via FOX6Now.com.