President Obama couldn't escape reminders of the IRS scandal Wednesday even at a ceremony to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
As he prepared to speak at the event at the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Obama listened to Chuck Canterbury, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, cite a quote from the legendary Rev. Billy Graham, whose charities were reportedly targeted by the IRS.
"The Rev. Billy Graham said, "Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened,'" Mr. Canterbury said. He was referring to the heroics of first responders in times of tragedy.
Franklin Graham, son of Rev. Graham, wrote a letter to Mr. Obama on Tuesday protesting the IRS's treatment of their charities and accusing the agency of trying to exert political pressure against them. Critics have accused Mr. Obama of taking too passive a stand as the controversy has unfolded.
In his remarks at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service, Mr. Obama paid tribute to 143 officers who gave their lives in service to protect others. The first officer he cited was motorcycle police officer Bruce St. Laurent, 55, a 20-year veteran of the Jupiter, Fla., police department who was killed while providing security for Mr. Obama's motorcade in Florida during a campaign trip last September. He was struck by a pickup truck.
"I have the privilege of working with some of the nation's finest law enforcement officers and professionals every day, and I'm perpetually mindful of the sacrifices they make for me and for my family," Mr. Obama said. "But never more so when I was told that Officer St. Laurent was struck and killed by another vehicle while driving his motorcycle as part of my motorcade. He'll be missed so deeply by his family at home and by his family in the force."
He told the audience that the mission of law enforcement professionals does not stop, in spite of the difficult losses in their ranks.
"You never let down your guard, and those of us who you protect should never let slide our gratitude, either," the president said. "We should not pause and remember to thank first-responders and police officers only in the wake of tragedy; we should do it every day."
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