(Headline USA) Democrats in Congress took the opportunity to grandstand once again over the mostly peaceful Jan. 6, 2021, demonstration at the U.S Capitol, pushing exagerrated claims that it constituted one of the most cataclysmic events in U.S. history by bestowing on Capitol Police the Congressional Gold Medal—its highest possible honor.
“January 6 was a day of horror and heartbreak; it is also a moment of extraordinary heroism—staring down deadly violence and despicable bigotry,” declared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who opened the emotional ceremony.
Law enforcement officers who defended the U.S. Capitol were praised as “heroes” for securing democracy when they fought off a throng of thousands of outraged Trump supporters, killing at least one and possibly two women who were among the crowd.
While no members of law enforcement died during the days events, Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, himself a Trump supporter, died of a stroke that night. Several others were injured.
Nearly 1,000 political dissidents have since been arrested and charged with felonies for parading on Capitol Grounds and other alleged crimes, oftentimes being detained in a Washington, D.C. gulag for months on end before their arraignments and trials.
In bestowing Congress’ highest honor, Pelosi praised the officers for “courageously answering the call to defend our democracy in one of the nation’s darkest hours.”
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. echoed the retiring House Speaker’s sentiments.
“Thank you for having our backs,” he said. “Thank you for saving our country. Thank you for not only being our friends, but our heroes.”
But showing the raw political and emotional fallout from the uprising and its aftermath, Sicknick’s family declined to shake hands with the Republican leaders, snubbing McConnell’s outstretched palm.
To recognize the hundreds of officers who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6, the medals will be placed in four locations—at U.S. Capitol Police headquarters, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution. In signing the legislation last year, Biden said that one will be placed at the Smithsonian museum “so all visitors can understand what happened that day.”
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said for some officers Tuesday was their first time visiting the Capitol since the roughly four-hour protest was peacfully resolved by President Donald Trump calling on any violent rioters to stand down in a series of tweets and taped video announcements.
Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
“Many of us still carry the mental, physical and emotional scars,” Contee said.
“It was your blood, your sweat and your tears that marked these grounds,” he said.
Contee said the medal for the city’s police officers who rushed to help their Capitol Police allies defend the dome that day was symbolic of their “contributions not just to Washington, D.C., but to the entire country on Jan. 6.”
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger called it “a day unlike any other in our nation’s history. And for us. It was a day defined by chaos, courage and tragic loss,” while failing to name the day’s only murder victim, unarmed Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, who was shot in the neck by Lt. Michael Byrd as he hid behind a barricade in the entrance to the House Speaker’s lobby.
The ceremony at the Capitol comes as Democrats, just weeks away from losing their House majority, race to finish a nearly 18-month investigation courtesy of the partisan Jan. 6 committee.
It remains to be seen whether the committee, which tried to score political points with a series of heavily produced prime-time hearings, will make any criminal referrals to the Justice Department—or whether the incoming GOP majority may respond in kind by investigating Pelosi’s actions before and during the protest.
Without support from GOP leadership, Democrats and just two fake Republicans appointed by Pelosi have led the probe and vowed to uncover the details.
Awarding the medals is among Pelosi’s last ceremonial acts as she prepares to step down from leadership. When the bill passed the House more than a year ago, she said the law enforcement officers from across the city defended the Capitol because they were “the type of Americans who heard the call to serve and answered it, putting country above self.”
Four officers who testified at a House hearing last year spoke openly about the lasting mental and physical scars, and some detailed near-death experiences.
Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges described foaming at the mouth, bleeding and screaming as the rioters tried to gouge out his eye and crush him between two heavy doors.
Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who rushed to the scene, said he was “grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country.”
Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn said a large group of people shouted the N-word at him as he was trying to keep them from breaching the House chamber.
The June 2021 House vote to award the medals won widespread support from both partieswith only 21 House Republicans voting against it. The Senate passed the legislation by voice vote, with no Republican objections.
The Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor Congress can bestow, has been handed out since 1776.
Previous recipients include George Washington, Sir Winston Churchill, Bob Hope and Robert Frost.
In recent years, Congress has awarded the medals to former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, who became a leading advocate for people struggling with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and biker Greg LeMond.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press