Updated 12:45 p.m. ET
Brian Sicknick, the slain U.S. Capitol Police officer who was given the rare distinction of lying in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, received a final tribute from lawmakers Wednesday. President Biden and first lady Jill Biden joined Sicknick’s family members and colleagues from the Capitol Police in a period of visitation on Tuesday night.
Sicknick, 42, died from injuries he sustained fending off members of the mob that breached the Capitol complex on Jan. 6.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered remarks at a ceremony Wednesday morning, praising him as a “patriot” and someone who possessed “profound inner strength.”
“It is my official and sad honor to welcome Officer Brian Sicknick and many who loved, respected and were protected by him to the United States Capitol Rotunda for a recognition of his life,” Pelosi said.
The California Democrat said that Congress was united in grief, gratitude and appreciation of Sicknick’s service and that his sacrifice would not be forgotten.
“Each day, when members enter the Capitol, this temple of democracy, we will remember his sacrifice and … others that day who fought so hard to protect the Capitol and the Congress.”
Pelosi highlighted Sicknick’s service to the nation, not just his dozen years with the Capitol Police, but in “other arenas” including joining the New Jersey Air National Guard in 1997 where he was deployed twice overseas.
The Singing Sergeants, the official United States Air Force Chorus, performed a soaring rendition of “America the Beautiful” at the ceremony.
“He was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time on a day when peace was shattered,” Schumer said of Sicknick.
“That Brian and his family were made to pay such a high price for his devoted service in the Capitol was a senseless tragedy. One that we are still grappling with,” he said.
Schumer said that he did not know Sicknick, but after meeting with the fallen officer’s relatives he got a sense that he was a good and decent man. Schumer said he learned that Sicknick would not have liked the attention he would receive on this day and that he was more comfortable taking a young officer under his wing to help them get acclimated to their new unit.
” ‘Blessed are the peacekeepers,’ like Brian,” said Schumer, quoting Matthew 5:9. “Let us be peacekeepers now in his memory.”
Others in attendance included members of the congressional leadership; Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley; Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser; and members of the District’s Metropolitan Police Department.
Following the tribute by lawmakers, a departure ceremony took place on the plaza outside the Capitol. Members of the Capitol Police stood in formation as Sicknick’s cremated remains were escorted down the Capitol steps before being placed in a waiting vehicle and driven to Arlington National Cemetery for burial.
Sicknick is just the fifth person and the third Capitol Police officer to receive the distinction of lying in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, a designation for those who were not government or military officials.
Famed evangelist Rev. Billy Graham was the most recent individual to receive the honor, in 2018. Civil rights icon Rosa Parks lay in honor in 2005. Capitol Police Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson, who were shot and killed by a Capitol intruder, were given the honor in 1998.
U.S. Capitol Police released a joint statement last month from the Sicknick family and his longtime partner Sandra Garza, thanking the millions of people who offered support and sympathies. They added that the tribute at the Capitol is an “historic honor on our fallen American hero.”
Sicknick was most recently assigned to the Capitol Police First Responder’s Unit. He is just the fifth member of the force to die in the line of duty, according to Capitol Police.
He was responding to the riots led by a pro-Trump mob attempting to prevent lawmakers from certifying President Biden’s Electoral College victory. Capitol Police said Sicknick was injured “while physically engaging protesters,” adding that he later “returned to his division and collapsed.”
Some witnesses said Sicknick had been struck with a fire extinguisher.
He died the following day from his injuries.