Crenshaw Remarks at Funeral for Officer Brian Sicknick
I recently spoke at the funeral ceremony for Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick at Arlington National Cemetery at the request of the Sicknick family. Officer Sicknick was killed during the violence at the Capitol on January 6th.
My full remarks are included below.
Remarks as Delivered
Another hero laid to rest here in Arlington Cemetery. I know this place well. Some of my dearest friends are here.
This is a place for America’s best. It is not just that these men and women are heroes, of course they are, it is that they are our best. And in my experience, we always seem to lose the best of us.
Brian lived with purpose. He lived asking what he could do for his country, for his community, and small animals. Sandra tells me he was the type of guy that would get out of the car and run across the parking lot to move a small turtle to safety. He was a real man, because real men are comfortable owning two small Dachshunds, as Brian did. I am not saying that just because I also have two small Dachshunds, I am saying it because it’s true. Real men don’t need to prove anything with big dogs.
Everyone has purpose in this life, I firmly believe that. You’re here for a reason. But not enough of us act as if that is true. Brian did.
He lived for his family, his mother Gladys, his father Charles, his brothers Ken and Craig, and his girlfriend Sandra. He joined the Air Force with a mission to serve our nation’s defense. He lived for others. After he was injured on January 6th, he spent his last remaining hours texting fellow officers and checking in on them. People needed Brian, because he was a good man, because he was one of our best.
There is another common thread that links those buried here at Arlington with Brian. These are protectors. These are the men and women that stand in the breach. That gap between the helpless and the aggressor, between right and wrong, between good and evil.
Many like to think they too could stand in that gap, but they’d be wrong. So many these days think they know better, think they could do it better, and they’ll be the first to tell you so.
But this job is not for the weak and loud, it is for the strong and silent. It is for the brave, those like Brian that quietly and professionally carry out their duty. Because that gap that they stand in isn’t always so clear. It's messy. It’s complicated. It’s not always obvious what is right and what is wrong, who the victims are, or who is good or bad.
And so, we take our best, and we say go forth and stand in the breach and figure it out. Be there to make those split-second choices so that we don’t have to. Be there to keep our families safe so that we don’t have to. Go overseas and make sure the enemy doesn’t come here so that we don’t have to.
You be there, and the rest of us will be here waiting, to judge you and second guess you.
We ask them to do the impossible, we don’t even ask that nicely, and they do it with pride and with honor.
If I may be so bold as to guess what Brian might have asked of us. I think that he, and the heroes buried here with him, might simply ask us all to be better. I think they appreciate our gratitude and our deference to their memory but I think most of all they just want us to be better.
And I don’t mean trying to make others better, or even our country better. I mean I think they want us to start with ourselves. To make ourselves better. Because that is in fact the hard work.
He might ask us to ask ourselves what went so wrong – in our country and in our hearts - that fellow Americans did what they did to Brian on that day. He might ask us to reflect for a moment before we lash out at each other, before we blame, before we chastise, before we judge, before we lose patience. He might ask us to recall that the greatness of the American spirit lies in a sense of responsibility, of accountability, and perhaps a bit of appreciation for freedom.
Being better means decency. It means citizenship. Living with the duty that Brian exemplified. It means running toward danger not because there is glory in doing so but because you must. It means trying to live up to the memory of the heroes buried here, to be worthy of their sacrifice.
This past year has been a low point, no doubt, but it is men like Brian that remind us of the grit and tenacity and good character that America was built on. He may not be with us anymore, but if we are to honor him then we should do so by using his memory as a reminder of what this country can be.
A reminder that there are indeed more like him. A reminder that the bravery and love inside of Brian Sicknick is not peculiar to him, but part of the American DNA. A reminder that our duty is to make these heroes proud, prove to them that their sacrifice was for a country worth sacrificing for. That we are a people worth sacrificing for. With men like Brian standing in the gap, it is hard to imagine that we are not.
This is still the greatest country on earth. This is still the great American experiment that has done more good for mankind than any other civilization in history. We will not forget that fact just because times are hard. We will persevere and strive to be better, and do justice to the memory of those buried here.
Officer Brian Sicknick, may you rest easy here on these hallowed grounds. You are in good company. You have undoubtedly earned your place here amongst America's best. God bless you. God bless this great country.