“On behalf of the distinguished Democratic leader of the Senate, all of our colleagues from the House and Senate, we prayerfully mark one year since the insurrection and patriotically honor the heroes who defended the Capitol and our democracy that day,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in remarks during the vigil.
Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, led a prayer asking for “help in these troubled times.”
“We need your help for this beloved nation, we need your help for those who have been traumatized and troubled by the painful events of one year ago and all that has continued since,” he said. “We need your help Lord now to be the democracy you would have us to be, to be the nation you would have us to be, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Earlier in the day, Pelosi led a memorial on the House floor, calling for a moment of silence and inviting various lawmakers to the podium to speak on the riots and their personal experiences.
Thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump breached the doors of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an attempt to disrupt a joint session of Congress from certifying electoral votes in favor of President Joe Biden. Capitol police evacuated lawmakers and their staffers from the House floor as the rioters made their way into the building, some of whom fought with officers and vandalized offices.
Pelosi offered thanks to congressional staff who helped protect the electoral votes from the rioters and Capitol Police who worked to keep people safe.
“That day and the days after, they were the defenders of our democracy,” she said of the Capitol Police. “And their courage and patriotism remain an inspiration.”
She invited Lin-Manuel Miranda and members of the “Hamilton” cast to perform “Dear Theodosia” from the musical.
“We must remain committed to finding a way forward together,” Miranda said. “That’s what I wrote about in the song ‘Dear Theodosia’ from ‘Hamilton.’ I believe no challenge is worth abandoning our efforts to unite as Americans. We will keep working generation after generation until we reach that someday.”
Five people died amid the insurrection, including one woman who was shot by a Capitol Police officer as she broke into the Capitol and four others who died of drug overdoses or natural causes.
Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died of a stroke one day after being pepper sprayed during the attack. Four other officers from the Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police Department who responded to the riots died of suicide in the days and weeks following.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is a member of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, said the fact that Congress was ultimately able to certify the election results the night of the attack showed that democracy is irrepressible.
“I pray that this solemn anniversary be a reawakening of our devotion to our democracy, that it serve as the most potent reminder that the freedoms we enjoy are not an inevitable birthright bequeathed by our founders, but a treasure to be jealously guarded,” he said. “As Americans, we have a very proud legacy to cherish.”
On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer decried the “mob mentality” that persists one year after the attack.
“The poisonous mob mentality lives on today in the threats against election workers, poll workers, even other public servants like school board members and health workers,” he said. “This is what erodes democracy.”
Most Republican lawmakers declined to attend the Jan. 6 anniversary event in the House, but Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. — who has been vocal in her opposition to Trump and the riots — and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney were present.
Dick Cheney told ABC News that the anniversary was an “important historical event.”
“I’m deeply disappointed we don’t have better leadership in the Republican Party to restore the Constitution,” he said.
Cheney, a Republican, served as vice president under former President George W. Bush. Rep. Liz Cheney serves as the vice-chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.
Dick Cheney told reporters he’s proud of the work his daughter’s doing in Congress.
“Liz is doing a hell of a job. I’m here to support her,” he said.
Though they didn’t attend the anniversary event, Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia put forth their own conspiracy theories about the riots during a press conference at the Capitol. They suggested the federal government was behind the attack.
“We know this January 6 last year wasn’t an insurrection,” Gaetz said. “No one has been charged with insurrection. No one has been charged with treason, but it very well may have been a fed-surrection.”
They accused the FBI of planting a former Marine to incite the riot.
Also Thursday, a group of lawmakers who were stuck in the House gallery during the Jan. 6 attack provided lunch for Capitol Police officers and staffers. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., told CNN the so-called “gallery group” invited about 800 people to the lunch, which the lawmakers served.
They are “unheralded, under appreciated or unrecognized for what they do every day — but particularly on that day — to save us, to save the Capitol, and to give us another day to do what’s right,” he said.