President Joe Biden signed a bill into law Thursday that awards Congressional Gold Medals to law enforcement officers that protected members of Congress amid riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
"Truth defeated lies. We did overcome, and that's because of the women and mean of the Capitol Police the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, and other law enforcement officials," Biden said during the ceremony, which took place in the White House Rose Garden.
On behalf of the country, Biden thanked the law enforcement officials. He said they saved democracy.
"To all of them, on behalf of a grateful nation—thank you, thank you, thank you for protecting our Capitol—and maybe even more importantly, for protecting our Constitution," Biden said.
Biden also acknowledged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for leading the effort to award the medals. She signed the bill over to Biden Wednesday moments after the Senate passed the bill unanimously and without objection. The House of Representatives passed the bill in June; 21 House Republicans voted against the measure at the time.
This bill directs the Treasury Department to mint four gold medals which will be distributed to the U.S. Capitol Police, the D.C. Metro Police, the Architect of the Capitol and the Smithsonian Institute. All four institutions are directed to put the medals on public display.
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died of a stroke a day after responding to the riots. Four other officers who responded to the Capitol that day have since died by suicide.
Four officers who helped protect the Capitol on Jan. 6 testified before a House Select Committee last week and said that they're still living with the emotional scars they suffered that day.
"For most people, Jan. 6 lasted a few hours. But for those of us who were in the thick of it, it has not ended," Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell Gonell said.
"I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room," D.C. Metro Police Officer Michael Fanone said. "But now I'm being told that hell doesn't exist, or hell wasn't that bad."