By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Thursday honored police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol against insurrectionists on Jan. 6 by signing legislation that awarded them Congressional Gold Medals and urging the country not to rewrite the history of that day.
The legislation, passed by the Senate earlier this week, honors members of the Capitol Police and Washington's Metropolitan Police Department who fought with a mob of then President Donald Trump's supporters as they attempted to overturn his election defeat.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris held an emotional ceremony in the White House Rose Garden with several police officers and lawmakers to commemorate the signing.
Hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, following a fiery speech in which he repeated his false claims of election fraud. Biden, who beat Trump in the November election, was inaugurated on Jan. 20.
"While the attack on our values and our votes shocked and saddened the nation, our democracy did survive. It did. Truth defeated lies. We did overcome," Biden said, giving credit to the men and women of law enforcement.
Four people died on the day of the violence. A Capitol Police officer attacked by protesters died the following day. Four police officers who guarded the building have since died by suicide. More than 100 officers were injured.
The law will place the medals in four locations — Capitol Police headquarters, the Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution.
Biden addressed attempts by some Republican lawmakers to downplay or outright deny the violence of the insurrection.
"Fellow Americans, the tragedy that day deserves the truth, above all else. We cannot allow history to be rewritten. We cannot allow the heroism of these officers to be forgotten," he said.
Harris called the officers heroes.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Jarrett Renshaw; editing by Diane Craft)