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Honoring Our Law Enforcement Heroes

By Sen. John Thune

January 15, 2021

The consequences of the Capitol riots on January 6 will last years, as our nation comes to grips with what led to this point. Every day since, we have learned new details that show how close our country came to even greater tragedy and loss of life. Many questions are still unanswered, but one thing is clear: the violence would have been much worse without the brave men and women of law enforcement who put their lives on the line.

Americans died or were severely injured because of this mob violence – including officers of the United States Capitol Police. My heart goes out to their families, friends, and fellow U.S. Capitol Police officers who are in mourning. My wife Kimberley and I have kept these heroic Americans in our prayers and hope that justice is served.  

For every terrifying moment last Wednesday, there were also moments of inspiring heroism. One U.S. Capitol Police officer can be seen in a video leading rioters away from the Senate floor. He was outnumbered and his safety jeopardized, but his bravery and quick thinking undoubtedly saved countless lives. I can’t thank him enough for that. His story of heroism is just one of many stories of law enforcement officers who showed true courage that day. 

In the days since, more scenes of selfless patriotism are emerging. If you were to walk through the halls of the Capitol right now, it’d be impossible to miss the National Guardsmen sleeping on the cold marble floors. More troops have been called to defend our Capitol than at any point since the Civil War, and these brave Americans—including some from South Dakota’s National Guard—will be working alongside Capitol Police to ensure that our Capitol remains secure for the inauguration and that the events of January 6 cannot be repeated. It is a sight that instills gratitude. These men and women, many young and far from home, have put aside their lives to protect our democracy.

Now more than ever, it is important to acknowledge those who wear a uniform. We are always grateful for the service and sacrifice of the police officers who protect our streets 365 days a year, pandemic or no pandemic, no matter what the challenges. But this year, with the courageous acts of January 6 fresh in our minds, our appreciation is especially profound.

The past year has been incredibly tough for our law enforcement officers, especially as they faced widespread calls by left-wing politicians to be defunded. As protests and civil unrest arose throughout the country, police officers were called upon to respond, and several of them lost their lives. Day in and day out, law enforcement officials across the nation put their lives on the line to protect our communities. I am so thankful to those in South Dakota law enforcement who have made our state such a safe place to live, work, and raise a family.