Police Officers Receive Congressional Gold Medals For Jan. 6 Response
Congress honored law enforcement officers who defended them and the U.S. Capitol, 23 months to the day after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Nearly two years after the U.S. Capitol was overrun by a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump, some police officers returned to the building for the first time, and their memories of that day are fresh.
"The sound of metal poles and other objects striking the bodies, helmets and shields may still ring loudly," said Robert Contee, Metropolitan Police Department chief.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor Congress can bestow, and House and Senate leaders emphasized how fitting it was to hold the ceremony in the Capitol rotunda.
"On Jan. 6, we all witnessed the gleeful desecration of our temple of democracy and a violent insurrection against our republic," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
"Exhausted and injured, it was your blood, your sweat and your tears that marked these grounds where we stand today, and you endured this without reluctance," Contee said.
Dozens of officers were seriously injured. Four died by suicide afterward, and Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick collapsed and died of natural causes after a rioter sprayed him with a chemical. Members of his family and others declined to shake hands with Republican leaders. Sicknick's mother was critical of their praise of the police while remaining loyal to Trump.
Leaders from both parties underscored the danger the officers willingly faced in confronting the rioters.
"When an unhinged mob tried to come between the Congress and our constitutional duty, the Capitol police fought to defend not just this institution but our system of self-government," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
Four medals will be placed at U.S. Capitol Police headquarters, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Capitol, and the Smithsonian Institution with the intent to honor all the officers who responded to the Capitol that day.
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