WASHINGTON — Lawmakers paid their respects Wednesday to slain Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and was given the rare distinction of lying in honor in the building's Rotunda.
“Our promise to Brian's family is that we will never forget his sacrifice," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in remarks during the ceremony. "Each day, when members enter the Capitol, this temple of democracy, we will remember his sacrifice and that [of] others that day, who fought so hard to protect the Capitol and the Congress."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said of Sicknick, “He was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and upon a day when peace was shattered."
The assault on the Capitol, Schumer said, "has left deep scars here in this building, among his friends and his colleagues, as have the tragic deaths of two of Brian's fellow officers in the days since his passing."
Schumer was referring to the deaths of Officer Jeffrey Smith, a 12-year-veteran of the Metro Police Department, and Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood, who joined the force in 2005; both died by suicide after the Jan. 6 riot.
Schumer noted that mental health services are available for those who continue to recover from their injuries, "seen and unseen, from the attack."
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden paid their respects to Sicknick on Tuesday evening. Sicknick's cremains arrived at the East Front of the Capitol and were placed in the Rotunda overnight to allow his colleagues and lawmakers to honor him.
Biden and his wife held their hands to their hearts and the president made the sign of the cross as they stood near Sicknick's urn and a folded American flag.
"This flag was flown over the United States Capitol by The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, honoring the distinguished life and service of Officer Brian D. Sicknick. January 7, 2021," reads a plaque on the frame holding the flag.
Sicknick, who was 42, died after he defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 against a mob that stormed the building and tried to usurp the electoral count after President Donald Trump urged supporters at a rally to "fight like hell" shortly before lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence convened for a joint session of Congress.
Trump is set to face his second Senate impeachment trial next week on a charge of inciting the riot that left five people dead.
Sicknick, who served in the New Jersey Air National Guard before joining the Capitol Police in 2008, was injured "while physically engaging with protesters" and returned to his division office, where he collapsed, Capitol Police said in a statement. He was taken to a hospital, where he died at about 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 7.
Just four other private citizens in history have lain in honor: In 1998, two other Capitol Police officers — Jacob Joseph Chestnut and John Michael Gibson — after they were killed in the line of duty; civil rights icon Rosa Parks in 2005; and the evangelist Billy Graham in 2018.
Sicknick's cremains will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
"The family of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick thanks the Congressional leadership for bestowing this historic honor on our fallen American hero," said a previous statement from Sicknick's family released by a Capitol Police spokeswoman. "We also wish to express our appreciation to the millions of people who have offered their support and sympathies during this difficult time. Knowing our personal tragedy and loss is shared by our nation brings hope for healing."