A phalanx of police officers stood at attention on each side of plaza below the marble steps as two officers marched solemnly upward, carrying the urn and a tri-folded U.S. flag in a case, and placed them at the center of the great hall.
Congressional leaders, Sicknick’s loved ones and lines of Capitol Police officers filed in to pay their respects.
Soon President Biden joined the reverent procession in the muted light of the Rotunda, walking in with first lady Jill Biden at 10:20 p.m. They slowly approached the urn as Capitol police stood at attention, then stood with their hands over their hearts for a moment, and Biden reached out to touch the urn. He said a prayer, marking the sign of the cross, before walking over to a trio of wreaths next to the U.S. and Capitol Police flags.
The president shook his head, and then took his wife’s hand as they exited the Rotunda.
After the ceremony, his cremated remains will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.
He was among scores of officers hurt when rioters supporting the false election claims of president Donald Trump violently besieged the Capitol, trying to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s victory.
Authorities have not publicly specified the cause of Sicknick’s death, which is being investigated by D.C. police homicide detectives.
“The heroism of Officer Sicknick and the Capitol Police force during the violent insurrection against our Capitol helped save lives, defend the temple of our democracy and ensure that the Congress was not diverted from our duty to the Constitution,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) said in announcing the ceremonies for Sicknick, which will not be open to the public.
“His sacrifice reminds us every day of our obligation to our country and to the people we serve,” the two top Democrats said in a statement.
Shortly after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, House and Senate leadership stood on the East steps of the Capitol to escort Sicknick’s remains into the Rotunda, as dozens of Capitol Police officers saluted beneath radiant white lights.
Pelosi, Schumer, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) stood with their hands over their hearts as the remains were carried inside by the Capitol Police honor guard.
After a private ceremony for the family, House and Senate leaders came forward to pay their respects, starting with Schumer and Pelosi, who marked the sign of the cross as she stood over Sicknick’s remains. The Rotunda was silent. Capitol Police were still.
Acting Police Chief Yogananda Pittman came forward after the lawmakers, solemnly raising her right hand into a crisp salute. A stream of Capitol Police followed.
Sicknick, who joined the force 12 years ago, is be the fifth deceased person not a public official or military leader to lie in the Rotunda. Congress approved the honor for the Rev. Billy Graham in 2018; civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005; and two other members of the Capitol police force, officer Jacob Chestnut and detective John Gibson, who were killed in 1998 by a gunman in the building.
A veteran of the New Jersey Air National Guard, Sicknick had dreamed of becoming a police office since childhood, family members said. He grew up in South River, N.J., in the northern part of the state, earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, rescued dachshunds and was a big fan of the New Jersey Devils hockey team.
Dozens of people across the country have been arrested by federal agents in the weeks since the riot and charged with taking part in the mayhem, but no one has been accused of killing Sicknick or contributing to his death.
Three other people died during the riot as the result of what police called “medical emergencies,” and a woman who entered the Capitol with rioters was fatally shot by a police officer. In addition, a Capitol officer and a D.C. police officer who helped defend the building died by suicide in subsequent days, authorities said.