Dec 7, 2022
Congressional Gold Medal honors Jan. 6 Capitol defenders Transcript
Congressional Gold Medal honors Jan. 6 Capitol defenders. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1 (00:00):
…. McConnell, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, Chief J. Thomas Manger of the United States Capitol Police, and Chief Robert J. Contee, Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department.
Nancy Pelosi (00:15):
Good morning. As Speaker of the House, it is my privilege to welcome you to the United States Capitol as we award the Congressional Gold Medal to the heroes of January 6th, 2021. In doing so, we honor their extraordinary service and sacrifice for courageously answering the call to defend our democracy in one of the nation’s darkest hours.
Now, at this time, please stand as you are able for the presentation of the colors, the national anthem and the prayer.
Speaker 2 (00:50):
Speaker 1 (03:33):
Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the invocation delivered by House Chaplain Dr. Margaret Kibben.
Dr. Margaret Kibben (03:41):
Would you pray with me? Almighty God, our protector against all evil, our sure defense in the face of all danger, you and your divine concern have set among us brave men and women as your own shield around us, and we offer our gratitude to you that we have the opportunity to award them for their heroic service.
We pray your presence among us at this morning’s ceremony that as honors are bestowed on the US Capitol Police and the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police, they each would have a sense of the blessing you intend for them. Grant your peace to these men and women, who day after day make the personal sacrifice to put themselves on the front line of democracy, who commit their lives and wellbeing in defense of the liberty and freedoms we each enjoy, and who protect the ones who give voice to the American people.
May each of these heroes, those whose names we know, Brian Sicknick, Howard Liebengood, Billy Evans, Michael Fanone, Eugene Goodman, as well as all the unsung defenders who proved their mettle and selflessness that day receive the appreciation and commemoration they so justly deserve.
May this Congressional Gold Medal serve as a reminder to them that in both peace and chaos, in the mundane and in the harrowing, countless Americans salute their bravery, their fortitude, and their sense of unwavering duty, which they demonstrate each and every day. Then make it our duty never to take lightly the weight of their faithful service to those who gave their all and to each who remain serving the honor and blessing.
Holy God, hold them always in your favor and bestow on them your own well done. In the strength of your mighty name we pray. Amen.
Speaker 1 (05:58):
Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
Nancy Pelosi (06:16):
Let us say a special thank you to the Capitol Police ceremonial unit and the Metropolitan Police honor guard for the presentation and retiring of the colors. We gather here exactly 23 months ago, our nation suffered the most staggering assault on democracy since the Civil War. January 6th was a day of horror and heartbreak, yet it’s also a moment of extraordinary heroism. Staring down deadly violence and despicable bigotry, our law enforcement officers bravely stood in the breach ensuring that democracy survived on that dark day.
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 6th, from every agent that responded that day. May this medal, the highest honor that Congress can bestow, serve as a token of our nation’s deepest gratitude and respect. Not as full, but as a token. And in accepting this medal, you bring luster to this award, just as you bring luster to the Congress and the Constitution of the United States. Will our leaders please join in this presentation?
So we go down here.
Speaker 1 (10:17):
Ladies and gentlemen, Chief J. Thomas Manger of the United States Capitol Police.
Chief J. Thomas Manger (10:31):
Good morning. Madam Speaker, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, Chief Contee, distinguished guests and all of my Capitol Police officers and civilian employees and all of my law enforcement colleagues, many of whom were here on January 6th, we welcome you here again today. I’m honored to accept this Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of the men and women of the United States Capitol Police, who bravely sacrificed their own safety in order to protect the Capitol building, the members of Congress and our country’s legislative processes on January 6th, 2021.
I also want to thank our law enforcement partners, especially the Metropolitan Police Department who came to our aid that day. Words cannot adequately express our gratitude for what you did to help our officers by joining in the fight that was taking place. It was a day unlike any other in our nation’s history. And for us, it was a day defined by chaos, courage, tragic loss, and resolve. And I especially want to recognize
Chief J. Thomas Manger (12:00):
… Recognize our officers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Officer Brian Sicknick, Officer Howard Liebengood, and I want to recognize also Officer Billy Evans, who was lost in the line of duty on April 2nd, 2021, when he was attacked outside the Capital by a lone assailant. I cannot thank our officers enough for their courage for their resolve in order to help us protect the Capital and the Congress from such a horrific attack. And on the very next day, these officers went back to work and continued to carry out our mission. I know that Congress appreciates that you all continue to do your job with dedication each and every day. Today’s ceremony means a great deal to the entire United States Capital Police Department. I appreciate the fact that Congress is acknowledging the courage, the strength and resiliency of each and every member of the United States Capital Police sworn-in civilian. We are equally as grateful for the recognition to our law enforcement partners who fought shoulder to shoulder with us until peace was restored in our Capital. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, Chief Robert J Contee III of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department.
Metropolitan PD Chief Robert J Contee III (13:48):
Good morning, Madame Speaker, attending members of the United States Congress, Mayor Bowser, and to my many law enforcement colleagues, both those in attendance and those who are unable to join us in person. My name is Robert J Contee III, Chief of Police for the Metropolitan Police Department. And on behalf of the men and women, both past and present of MPD, it is a tremendous honor to accept the United States Congressional Gold Medal. This medal is symbolic of our members’ contributions, not just to the District of Columbia, but to the entire country on January 6th, 2021.
Today marks a significant moment in the history of the Metropolitan Police Department. Our profession is rooted in a culture of guardianship and there has been no better representation of this than what the world witnessed from police officers on January the 6th. I thank all that voted in favor of this recognition, but I must also thank our law enforcement community for their extraordinary response. To our heroes, for many of the officers with us, todays ceremony is the first time they have returned to the Capital Complex. Many of us still carry the physical, mental, and emotional scars after that mob of thousands launched a violent assault in an attempt to halt the counting of electoral ballots. The sound of metal poles and other objects striking the bodies, helmets and shields may still ring loudly. The air still thick with bear spray and other chemicals, making it difficult for our officers to see and breathe. The calls for your fellow officer to be harmed just as loud as the day that this occurred.
But there is hope, because through adversity comes growth and we continue to grow together and deliver excellence to our community. Perspective, the kind that really matters, comes through risk and courage. And you delivered. The urgent request for the Metropolitan Police Department to assist in defending the US Capital is something that you will carry with you for the rest of your careers and lives. Regardless of your political affiliation, you responded like you do each and every day without hesitation, with courage and an unwavering duty to uphold your oath. You were confronted by individuals engaged in heinous behavior, with the intent of causing you harm and destroying our democratic process. You did not give up and you did not give in. And yes, you were vastly outnumbered, but you were determined, exhausted, and injured. It was your blood, your sweat, and your tears that marked these grounds where we stand today and you endured this without reluctance.
This commitment to our nation is a reflection of your spirit and serves as an enduring reminder that adversity is also an opportunity, and one of the greatest strengths is our ability to overcome insurmountable obstacles. That day, you showed the world just a glimpse of who we are. I am immensely proud of the work you did that day to return the legislative body to the chambers and restore order to our democratic process. Your actions were powerful, and MPDs legacy strengthened. An unprecedented crisis that called for unprecedented action. And the Congressional Gold Medal is a product of your efforts as guardians of our democracy. So on behalf of the 4,000 members of the Metropolitan Police Department, I am humbled and privileged to accept this highest honor bestowed upon us by members of Congress. God bless everyone, and to our police officers, you are an inspiration to all Americans. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen. The United States Army Band Pershing’s Own Army Corps.
United States Army Band (19:08):
Ladies and gentlemen, the honorable Kevin McCarthy, Republican leader of the United States House of Representatives.
Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (22:31):
I appreciate the House and Senate for agreeing to use the rotunda to honor the Capital Police and DC Police. Today we pay tribute to their service and sacrifice on January 6th. These brave men and women in uniform stood strong in the line of duty for our country, and we’re forever grateful for that. This Congressional Gold Medal commemorates their courage, professionalism, and patriotism. There’s no more fitting place to show our gratitude than the rotunda of the Capital. A room that is a symbol of a sacred building, a symbol of a great nation, a symbol of freedom and self-government, here and around the world. The Capital Police and DC Police are valued members of this community, but they’re also members of another community, the community of law enforcement, the brotherhood of law enforcement.
By awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal, we’re not only honoring them for protecting our nation and community on January 6th, but we’re honoring them for the essential brotherhood as well. To all the law enforcement officers who keep this country safe, thank you. Putting on the badge means putting yourselves in harm ways to protect others, to keep the country safe. These brave men and women are heroes, heroes who protected so many
Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (24:00):
… from harm on that day. Heroes who live out the code to protect and serve. Heroes who do the noble work. Too many people take that for granted. But days like today forces to realize how much we owe that thin blue line. We’re forever indebted to them for their heroism. Today we take an important step towards repaying the debt by presenting them a Congressional Gold Medal. As Congress’s highest honor, this award says that the service and sacrifice of these officers will not be forgotten. I hope every American will see this award and feel the gratitude for every law enforcement officer who answer the call of duty every day, but especially the Capitol Police and DC officers on January 6th. Because that’s what’s great and grateful nations do. Thank you and God bless.
Speaker 3 (25:03):
Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the United States Senate.
Metropolitan PD Chief Robert J Contee III (25:24):
It doesn’t take long before anyone working in the Capitol Complex comes to see our policemen and police women as familiar colleagues. They’re the first faces we see on our way in each morning and our last Senate goodbyes every night. Just like members, just like staff, the USCP are part of the ordinary bedrock of daily life. But some days, the worst days, the hardest days were starkly reminded that these brave men and women in and out of uniform are not an ordinary part of the fabric. They are not colleagues just like any other. When the rest of us move away from danger, they move toward it. When circumstances make everyone else think of safety first, they put theirs last.
And when an unhinged mob tried to come between the Congress and our constitutional duty, the Capitol Police fought to defend not just this institution, but our system of self-government. On-duty officers held the line. Off-duty officers left their families and raced back here. Local officers from surrounding areas and federal personnel from multiple agencies rushed to the scene and joined forces to help clear the Capitol and restore law and order. Because of your bravery and professionalism, Congress finished our job that very night. Because you honored your oaths to support and defend the Constitution, we were able to honor ours. That is a reality that was made especially clear 23 months ago, but it is true every single day. Thank you for having our backs. Thank you for saving our country. Thank you for being not just our friends but our heroes.
Speaker 3 (28:14):
Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Charles E Schumer, Democratic leader of the United States Senate.
Speaker 4 (28:28):
Madam Speaker, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, Chief Manger, Chief Contee, Reverend Clergy, my colleagues, friends, families. January 6th was a day of violence and a day of darkness. But today, under this hallowed Capitol dome, we come to sanctify it also as a day of heroes. We do so by bestowing the highest honor Congress has to offer to the men and women of the US Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington DC. On the day, democracy faced maximum danger. These public servants responded with maximum valor, whether it was holding the line on the lower West Terrace or leading insurrectionists away from the Senate chamber or acting quickly to protect members and staff. History will forever note that on January 6th, democracy lived on because of them. Today we are here to say thank you, thank God for you.
A year can pass, two years can pass, a decade can pass, but January 6th will always seem like yesterday to me. I can remember sitting on the floor of the Senate that day when my detail suddenly came up and said, “Senator, we have to get you out of here. You’re in danger.” And he grabbed me by the jacket as we ran out of the chamber. At one point, I was within 30 feet of the rioters before my brave detail pulled me away to safety. Their quick thinking, their valor, their ability to stay calm in the face of violence undoubtedly saved lives that day. And again, our thanks will forever remain immeasurable. So too will our gratitude towards everyone who stepped up that day from the National Guard to the Capitol staff who restored these halls after the violence. As we observe this solemn occasion, we acknowledge that no honor, no recognition can bring back the officers we lost to the attack.
We mourn their loss. We pray for their families and we honor their limitless heroism in the face of the unthinkable. And to every member of the Capitol Police and metropolitan police who still bear the scars from that attack, we are here for you always. It cannot be any other way. On that terrible day in January, you stared directly into the heart of darkness and though outnumbered, you held the line, the line of democracy, you bravely held it and democracy endured. In return, those of us in elected office must always strive to care for you, to support your physical safety and your mental health, to give you the tools necessary to do your jobs to the best of your ability. To my personal detail, Mike, Kevin, Joe, Dhawan, and Chris, as well as Antonio, Larry, Sephonia, Christian, Brian, Darren, Kat, Fernando, Richardson, and Alex, thank you.
Thank you what you do every day to keep me, my family and my staff safe. You’re the best of the best. You make your department proud. Finally, let me say this. The dome of this Capitol is kept lit by day and night as an enduring symbol of our precious democracy. It’s a message to the entire world that here in America’s self rule must forever serve as our bedrock. On January 6th, that light flickered for a brief harrowing moment, but it was rekindled anew, thanks to the bravery of our Capitol Police, the DC Metropolitan Police and all of our public servants who dedicate themselves to protecting this Capitol. Today, because of these heroes, the vision of our founders remains alive in our time. So thank you. God bless you. God bless our democracy.
Speaker 3 (33:33):
Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
Nancy Pelosi (33:45):
It is an emotional day for all of us, but you can just imagine what it is for our Capitol Police or Metropolitan Police, the families who are here. Listening to the music of the US Army Band, Pershing’s Own was so beautiful. Let us salute them again for the beautiful…
It’s all lovely, but I’m so glad you went to the fourth verse. “O beautiful for patriots dream that sees beyond the years undimmed by human fears.” That has always been my favorite line because it is who we are as a country. May we always be patriots who see beyond the years. Thank you for being so beautiful in your presentation.
Here we are again under this beautiful dome, as has been referenced by our colleagues in leadership. This beautiful dome, magnificent dome of the United States Capitol, which let us recall, was built during the Civil War. At the time, the iron and steel used for the construction were set by some to be needed for the war effort. But President Lincoln said to halt the work on the dome, wouldn’t be right, and he said no. And so in face of brutal violence at the time, the work went on. The work went on because Lincoln knew that we needed a national symbol, a beacon of patriotism, determination, and resilience. Isn’t it magnificent? May be we worthy to work under it.
More than a century and a half later, these high ideals were once again on display right here on this sacred ground beneath the dome.
Nancy Pelosi (36:00):
… dome. On January 6th, we all witness the gleeful desecration of our temple of democracy and a violent insurrection against our republic. Our congressional community knows profound terror of that day firsthand. Members of Congress fled for their lives. Staff barricaded behind office doors. Support staff, who run this Capitol, hid under furniture the second the sound of blood curdling screams, the smell of gas and smoke all remain wrong. Yet that day, the Capitol police, the metropolitan police, and additional agencies bravely threw themselves between us and violence. And may I thank the National Guard for continuing that protection, ending the day and continuing that protection. With great patriotism… Again, hearkening back to Lincoln with great patriotism, determination, and resilience, they answered the call to serve, putting their lives on the line to protect the Capitol, the Congress, and the Constitution. Your valor on that dark day is the stuff of legend. And like the dome, they fought to defend a source of strength and hope. And we thank you for that.
United in grief and gratitude, today we award them the congressional gold medal for ever etching their heroism into our history. In doing so, we thank those heroes for their service and sacrifice. Especially more than 140 members of our protection left with lasting scars and many more suffering from indelible trauma. And may we always remember the fallen, the martyrs, the martyrs for democracy, including US Capitol Police Officer, Brian Sicknick, whose parents are here today, US Capitol Police Officer, Howard Liebengood, Metropolitan Police Officer, Jeffrey Smith, and US Capitol Police Officer, Billy Evans killed in line of duty later on Food Friday. Let us acknowledge and thank them. I also want to acknowledge those members of the police force, the District of Columbia, as well as the Capitol Police who had the courage to tell in testimony what they witnessed that day. And may I acknowledge the Mayor of Washington. Thank you, Mayor, for being with us and with the Metropolitan Police.
In his Gettysburg address, which was in November, November 18th, Lincoln stood on the ground consecrated by the blood of Patriots and spoke to the duty to defend democracy. Let us recall his words. “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that we are here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth, shall not perish from the earth,” no matter what the assault, as we saw on January 6th.
Thank you to our heroes for being with us today and thank all of you for joining us as we canonize these heroes in the pantheon of patriots, oh beautiful for Patriot’s dreams. May God bless them and their families. God bless you and your families. May God bless the United States of America. Thank you all for being with us today. Thank you. [inaudible 00:40:49].
Speaker 5 (42:48):
Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the benediction delivered by Chaplain Barry Black.
Chief J. Thomas Manger (43:01):
Let us pray. Almighty God, you are our light and salvation and we refuse to be afraid. Lord, we thank you for giving us this opportunity to honor brave warriors for freedom with a congressional gold medal. We are grateful for those who more than self, their country loved. We praise you for those who courageously defended this cathedral of freedom. In all our tomorrows, bless and protect this land we love, smile on all lovers of freedom, show your favor to us with the gift of shalom, a peace that the world can’t give or take away. And Lord, I thank you for Gino Aversano, the Capitol police who you provided as my personal guardian angel on January 6th. I thank you in your sovereign name. Amen.
Speaker 5 (45:06):
Ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats for the departure of the official party.