Biden signs bill awarding Congressional Gold Medal to Jan. 6 officers
President Biden on Thursday signed legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department for defending the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you for protecting our Capitol. Maybe even more importantly, for protecting our Constitution. And, saving the lives of duly elected members of the Senate and their staff,” Biden said at a White House signing ceremony.
The Capitol Police and D.C. police will each receive one medal. A third medal will be displayed at the Smithsonian and the fourth will be on display in the Capitol.
“America owes you a debt we can never fully repay. I know that receiving this award is bittersweet,” Biden said.
The president described how more than 140 law enforcement were physically injured during the insurrection, others suffered emotional trauma and several have since died.
“It breaks my heart, breaks the heart of the nation, to know that you were assaulted by thousands of violent insurrectionists at the Capitol of the United States of America,” Biden said.
Biden honored officers who lost their lives, including Brian Sicknick, who died on Jan. 7, and Billy Evans, who died on April 2 when a man rammed a car into a barricade outside the Capitol. The president said the families of both officers were in the audience at the White House on Thursday.
For the bill signing, Biden was joined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and dozens of Capitol Police officers and D.C. police officers.
Biden also honored the officers who died by suicide after defending the Capitol. The president said that for others struggling, there is help available.
He called those who breached the Capitol “extremists” and “terrorists.”
It was “insurrection, it was riot and mayhem. It was radical and chaotic,” Biden added, characterizing the actions as “fundamentally un-American.”
“We cannot allow history to be rewritten, we cannot allow the heroism of these officers to be forgotten. We have to understand what happened, the honest and unvarnished truth. We have to face it. That’s what great nations do,” Biden said.
A House select committee held its first hearing last week to examine the events of Jan. 6. Four police officers gave emotional testimony about their experiences. Before the bill signing on Thursday, Biden shook hands with Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, one of the officers who testified.
Biden, in his remarks, said he got to know the Capitol Police during his 36 years in the Senate and when he was vice president.
Vice President Harris, also a former senator, said Thursday that she and her husband, Doug Emhoff, watched with shock as the Capitol was attacked on Jan. 6.
But, she said, there were “countless acts of courage” by police.
“The officers of the United States Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan police risked their own lives to save the lives of others, both on Jan. 6 and on April 2. They sacrificed so much to defend our nation and, in securing our Capitol, they secured our democracy,” Harris said.
She paid tribute to the officers who have died and offered her support for those who are facing trauma “seen and unseen.”