WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday offered “profound gratitude” to law enforcement officers who responded to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection as he signed legislation to award them Congressional Gold Medals for their service. The president thanked the officers for saving the lives of members of Congress during those “tragic hours” of the attack seven months ago.
The medal is the highest honor Congress can bestow. Joined by members of Congress, law enforcement officers and the families of police who died following the attack, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris held the formal signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.
Many officers were brutally beaten and injured that day as the violent mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters pushed past them to break into the Capitol and interrupt the certification of Biden’s victory. Many of the insurrectionists repeated Trump's false claims about widespread election fraud as they hunted for lawmakers and tried to beat down the doors of the House chamber with lawmakers inside.
Some of the officers, including four who testified at a House hearing last week, have spoken openly about the lasting mental and physical scars.
“My fellow Americans, let’s remember what this was all about,” Biden said of the siege. “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.”
The Senate passed the legislation unanimously earlier this week. The new law will place the medals in four locations — Capitol Police headquarters, the Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution. Biden said the medals will be at the Smithsonian “so all visitors can understand what happened that day.”
The Senate passed the legislation by voice vote, with no Republican objections. The House passed the bill in June, with 21 Republicans who have downplayed the insurrection in Trump’s defense vo