The next time you're having one of those days, questioning why you are toiling away in public service rather than making more money in the private sector, click on this link in the New York Law Journal to read recent remarks delivered by Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. Although it's an interesting speech about why Ms. Lynch has chosen a career in public service, it's also an inspiring essay about why public service is important. In referencing Emory Bruckner, the award's namesake with which she was being honored, Ms. Lynch described what she learned while she was at the Rwandan war crimes tribunal:
[N]othing can prepare you to hear the story of a woman who survived an attack carried out on a crowd of people in a churchyard by hiding under a pile of dead bodies and pretending to be one of them. Or to hear the story of a woman whose employer promised to smuggle her out of the country, away from the genocide but instead took her money and betrayed her to the killers. She narrowly escaped with her life, and showed me the marks still on her skull where the machete nearly ended her time on this earth. Still mistrustful of the tribunal system, these people and so many more told their stories to me in the hopes it would help someone else and bring justice to other victims. In that way, I was given both the gift of their trust and the opportunity to serve.
All of that Emory Buckner would have understood.
He would have understood as well the privilege I was given when I was asked to return to the Eastern District.
The man who wrote "civil office in time of peace is the greatest honor which can be conferred upon a citizen by his country," . . . understood that when you are at the helm of an office of dedicated public professionals, you are not just running an office, you are shaping a generation. Your obligation is not just to process cases, but to take young lawyers and give them the tools and the understanding to see the whole case and focus not just on winning but on doing the right thing, because that way not only is justice . . . truly served, it is made a part of them.