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Biden Signs Bill Awarding Congressional Gold Medals to Those Who Protected Capitol From Rioters on Jan. 6

  • President Joe Biden on Thursday signed legislation awarding Congressional Gold Medals to police officers and others who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 from a violent mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters.
  • The legislation, which passed the Senate unanimously earlier this week, calls for the striking of four medals, which will be distributed to the headquarters of the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department, as well as the Smithsonian Institution and the Architect of the Capitol.

President Joe Biden on Thursday signed legislation awarding Congressional Gold Medals to police officers and others who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 from a violent mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters.

“We cannot allow history to be rewritten,” Biden said in the Rose Garden before signing the bill.

“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,” the president said.

The legislation, which passed the Senate unanimously earlier this week, calls for the striking of four medals, which will be distributed to the headquarters of the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department, as well as the Smithsonian Institution and the Architect of the Capitol. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest symbol of gratitude and achievement that Congress can give. 

A version of the bill was approved in the House last month on a 406-21 vote, with only Republicans voting against the measure.

More than 140 police officers were injured during the Capitol attack and 15 were hospitalized.

The final text of the bill specifically acknowledged Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who suffered strokes on Jan. 6 and died a day later. The office of Chief Medical Examiner Francisco Diaz told The Washington Post that “all that transpired [at the Capitol] played a role in his condition.”

The bill text also acknowledged USCP officer Howard Liebengood and MPD Officer Jeffrey Smith, both of whom died of suicide days after the Capitol riot.

In the months following the attack, two more D.C. police officers, Gunther Hashida and Kyle DeFreytag, killed themselves.

“It breaks my heart,” Biden said to more than a dozen officers who attended the ceremony. “It breaks the heart of the nation to remember that you were assaulted by thousands of violent insurrectionists at the Capitol of the United States of America.”

A mob of hundreds of Trump’s supporters invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6, shortly after a joint session of Congress convened to confirm Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Trump, who that same day held a rally outside the White House ellipse, pressured Republicans and Vice President Mike Pence to reject key states’ election results. Trump also urged his followers to march to the Capitol and told them “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

“My fellow Americans, let’s remember what this was all about,” Biden said of the attack. “It was a violent attempt to overturn the will of the American people, to seek power at all costs, to replace the ballot with brute force. To destroy, not to build. Without democracy, nothing is possible. With it, everything is.”

A select committee of mostly Democratic House lawmakers is now investigating the deadly attempted insurrection. Last week, four officers testified before that select committee, describing in harrowing detail their experiences at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

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