Slain Capitol Police officer honored: 'We will never forget'

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U.S. Capitol Police officers on motorcycles ride ahead of a hearse carrying the remains of U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick as it makes its way to Arlington National Cemetery after Sicknick was lying in honor at the U.S Capitol, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON – Congressional leaders paid tribute Wednesday to slain U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick in the building he died defending, promising his family and his fellow officers that they will never forget his sacrifice.

Sicknick died after an insurrectionist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, interrupting the electoral count after then-President Donald Trump urged them to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. The U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that Sicknick, who died the next day, was injured “while physically engaging with protesters,” though the cause of his death has not been determined.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sicknick was a patriot who will be remembered by lawmakers each day as they enter the Capitol. “We will never forget,” she promised his family, who attended the ceremony.

The 42-year-old officer was only the fifth person to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, a designation for those who are not elected officials, judges or military leaders. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, along with their spouses, paid their respects during two days of visitation Tuesday and Wednesday, as did members of Congress and his fellow law enforcement officers. Both Biden, who visited Tuesday night, and Harris on Wednesday laid their hands on the urn in remembrance.

After the ceremony, Sicknick’s urn was taken out of the building as hundreds of his fellow officers lined the Capitol’s east front. They saluted his hearse as it departed for Arlington National Cemetery, where he will be interred.

The ceremony came a week before a Senate impeachment trial that will issue a verdict on Trump's role in the riots, and as shaken members of Congress grapple with what the violence means for the future of the country and their own security. While lawmakers were largely united in denouncing the riots, and Trump’s role in them, the parties are now largely split on how to move forward. At the same time, the building has been cut off from the public, surrounded by large metal fences and defended by the National Guard.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking at the ceremony, talked of the deep scars left by the assault.

“Let us all be a comfort to those who continue to recover from injuries, seen and unseen, from the attack on Jan. 6,” Schumer said.