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Congress gives its highest honor to the officers who protected the Capitol on January 6

'Staring down deadly violence and despicable bigotry, our law enforcement officers bravely stood in the breach, ensuring that democracy survived on that dark day.'

capitol riot, jan 6 insurrection, conressional gold medal

Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, awards Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman with the Joint Meritorious Civilian Service Award in February 2021.

Congress honored the heroes of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on December 6 by bestowing its highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, to those who protected democracy on that dark day.

"Exactly 23 months ago, our nation suffered the most staggering assault on democracy since the Civil War. January 6 was a day of horror and heartbreak. It is also a moment of extraordinary heroism," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said at the ceremony.

"Staring down deadly violence and despicable bigotry, our law enforcement officers bravely stood in the breach, ensuring that democracy survived on that dark day," Pelosi added. “So, on behalf of the United States Congress and the American people, it is my honor to present the Congressional Gold Medal to the United States Capitol Police, the Metropolitan Police and every hero of January 6, from every agent that responded that day."



Hundreds of officers who worked that day will be collectively honored by four medals placed at four locations in Washington, D.C.: the U.S. Capitol Police headquarters, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution.

At least nine people connected with the capitol riot have died since January 6, 2021. Three Trump supporters died during the riot, two suffered medical events and another was shot by Capitol Police. Four officers that worked on the day of the attack have since died by suicide. Officer Brian Sicknick died shortly after being sprayed with a chemical by one of the rioters.

The legislation passed by Congress specifically mentioned the “courage” of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman who used himself as bait to keep the violent mob away from the Senate chambers.

“Words cannot adequately express our gratitude for what you did to help our officers by joining in the fight that was taking place,” U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said as he accepted the award on behalf of his officers.

“You did not give up. You did not give in. And yes, you were vastly outnumbered. But you were determined, exhausted and injured. It will show your sweat and your tears that mark these realms where we stand today,” Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said. “You show the world just a glimpse of what we are.”

The ceremony was a way to honor those who fought bravely on behalf of their country on one of its darkest days. It also affirmed the notion that the January 6 insurrection was an assault on American democracy perpetrated by a group of right-wing protestors who attempted to thwart the election of an American president. The insurrection has been downplayed by many prominent Republicans who have dismissed the violent attack in order to protect former President Donald Trump.

On the day of the insurrection, Trump told the protesters to “fight like hell” to prevent Biden’s election from being certified by Congress.

The Republican Party’s collective shrug wasn’t lost on the family of Officer Sicknick. They refused to shake the hands of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy when they accepted the fallen officer’s medal.

Surely, as time moves on, the politics surrounding the January 6 insurrection will cool and cease to color perceptions of that horrific day. As the story falls into the hands of historians it’ll be remembered as a brutal attack on democracy that was thwarted by brave men and women who gave everything they had to protect their country.

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