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WASHINGTON (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden has awarded the Medal of Valor to 18 police officers, firefighters and public safety officers. It's the nation's highest honor for public safety officers and recognizes those who risk their own safety to save or protect others.

Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder presented the medals at an emotional ceremony attended by family members and fellow officers.

Four of the recipients died in the line of duty. Their spouses and colleagues accepted the awards on their behalf.

Biden says public safety officers are the spine of the nation. He says it's sad it takes an extraordinary act for the public to recognize their sacrifices and courage.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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