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Gen. Selva’s Remarks at the Train Hero Award Ceremony


By Gen. Paul Selva

SELVA: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Albert Einstein once said that this world is a very dangerous place not because of the people who wish to do evil, but because there are so few of us that try to make a difference and do anything about it.

Mr. Secretary, Senator Feinstein, representatives from the states of California and Oregon, distinguished visitors, members of our honorees’ families, it is a privilege to share this stage with three young men who “did something about evil.”

Today, we’re here to honor Specialist Alek Skarlatos, Airman First Class Spencer Stone, and Mr. Anthony Sadler for what they did in their heroic actions that day on a train bound for Paris. 

We’re here to honor their bravery and their willingness to act.

It’s awful difficult for us to imagine what might have happened on that train that day had they not taken action. And for that heroism, we are here to present the Soldier’s Medal and the Airman’s Medal, the services’ highest award for members who have distinguished themselves in non-combat heroic action which involved risking their own lives, as well as the Medal of Valor, a medal that was brought into being after September 11, 2001 for civilians who took the same risk.

I stand before you today as a person who owes his life to an Airman. That Airman risked his life to save mine, not unlike these three young men did that day on that train. And I have lived my life and led my career with the abiding belief that when each of us who wear this uniform or choose to defend this nation are called, we will do the right thing.

Gentlemen, thank you for acting. Thank you for being people that cared enough to make a difference.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my privilege to introduce our Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter.