WASHINGTON (AP) — Legislation enforcement officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 were honored Tuesday with Congressional Gold Medals, praised as “heroes” for securing democracy once they fought off a brutal and bloody assault by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened an emotional ceremony, tensions nonetheless uncooked within the stately Capitol Rotunda, which was overrun that day when Trump supporters roamed the halls making an attempt to cease Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election.
“January 6 was a day of horror and heartbreak; it is usually a second of extraordinary heroism —staring down lethal violence and despicable bigotry,” Pelosi stated.
In bestowing Congress’ highest honor, Pelosi praised the heroes for “courageously answering the decision to defend our democracy in one of many nation’s darkest hours.”
Senate Republican chief Mitch McConnell stated: “Thanks for having our backs. Thanks for saving our nation. Thanks for not solely being our mates, however our heroes.”
However displaying the uncooked political and emotional fallout from the rebel and its aftermath, representatives of one of many medal recipients — the household of fallen officer Brian Sicknick — declined to shake fingers with the Republican leaders, snubbing McConnell’s outstretched palm.
To acknowledge the lots of of officers who have been on the Capitol on Jan. 6, the medals will likely be positioned in 4 places — at U.S. Capitol Police headquarters, the Metropolitan Police Division, the Capitol and the Smithsonian Establishment. In signing the legislation final 12 months, Biden stated that one will likely be positioned on the Smithsonian museum “so all guests can perceive what occurred that day.”
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee stated for some officers Tuesday was their first time visiting the Capitol since that horrific day, a scene full of the clanking sound of steel metal flag poles being wielded as weapons, “the air nonetheless thick” with chemical sprays as officers have been assaulted by the mob of Trump supporters.
“Many people nonetheless carry the psychological, bodily and emotional scars,” Contee stated.
“It was your blood, your sweat and your tears that marked these grounds,” he stated.
Contee stated the medal for town’s cops who rushed to assist their Capitol Police allies defend the dome that day was symbolic of their “contributions not simply to Washington, D.C., however to the complete nation on Jan. 6.”
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger referred to as it “a day not like every other in our nation’s historical past. And for us. It was a day outlined by chaos, braveness and tragic loss.”
The ceremony on the Capitol comes as Democrats, simply weeks away from dropping their Home majority, race to finish an almost 18-month investigation of the rebel.
With out assist from GOP management, Democrats and simply two Republicans have led the probe and vowed to uncover the main points of the assault, which got here as Trump tried to overturn his election defeat and inspired his supporters to “struggle like hell” in a rally simply earlier than the congressional certification.
Awarding the medals is amongst Pelosi’s final ceremonial acts as she prepares to step down from management. When the invoice handed the Home greater than a 12 months in the past, she stated the regulation enforcement officers from throughout town defended the Capitol as a result of they have been “the kind of People who heard the decision to serve and answered it, placing nation above self.”
Dozens of the officers who fought off the rioters sustained severe accidents. Because the mob of Trump’s supporters pushed previous them and into the Capitol, police have been overwhelmed with American flags and their very own weapons, dragged down stairs, sprayed with chemical substances and trampled and crushed by the gang. Officers suffered bodily wounds, together with mind accidents and others with lifelong results, and lots of struggled to work afterward as a result of they have been so traumatized.
4 officers who testified at a Home listening to final 12 months spoke overtly concerning the lasting psychological and bodily scars, and a few detailed near-death experiences.
Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges described foaming on the mouth, bleeding and screaming because the rioters tried to gouge out his eye and crush him between two heavy doorways. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who rushed to the scene, stated he was “grabbed, overwhelmed, tased, all whereas being referred to as a traitor to my nation.” Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn stated a big group of individuals shouted the N-word at him as he was making an attempt to maintain them from breaching the Home chamber.
At the least 9 individuals who have been on the Capitol that day died throughout and after the rioting, together with a girl who was shot and killed by police as she tried to interrupt into the Home chamber and three different Trump supporters who suffered medical emergencies. Two cops died by suicide within the days that instantly adopted, and a 3rd officer, Sicknick, collapsed and later died after one of many rioters sprayed him with a chemical. A health worker decided he died of pure causes.
A number of months after the assault, in August 2021, the Metropolitan Police introduced that two extra of their officers who had responded to the rebel had died by suicide. The circumstances that led to their deaths have been unknown.
The June 2021 Home vote to award the medals gained widespread assist from each events. However 21 Home Republicans voted towards it — lawmakers who had downplayed the violence and stayed loyal to Trump. The Senate handed the laws by voice vote, with no Republican objections.
Pelosi, McConnell, Home Republican chief Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer attended the ceremony and awarded medals.
The Congressional Gold Medal, the very best honor Congress can bestow, has been handed out since 1776. Earlier recipients embrace George Washington, Sir Winston Churchill, Bob Hope and Robert Frost. Lately, Congress has awarded the medals to former New Orleans Saints participant Steve Gleason, who turned a number one advocate for individuals combating Lou Gehrig’s illness, and biker Greg LeMond.
Signing the invoice on the White Home final 12 months, Biden stated the officers’ heroism can’t be forgotten.
The rebel was a “violent try to overturn the desire of the American individuals,” and People have to grasp what occurred, he stated. “The trustworthy and unvarnished fact. Now we have to face it.”