WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Friday will present the nation’s second highest civilian award to 12 individuals — including Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson — involved in defending the Capitol during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and safeguarding the will of American voters in the 2020 presidential election.
The White House announced on Thursday that Biden will present the Presidential Citizens Medal during an East Room ceremony marking the second anniversary of the assault on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump whose siege interrupted the congressional certification of Biden’s victory.
Among those being honored are seven members of law enforcement, including a posthumous award to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the attack, and an award to Officer Eugene Goodman who was credited with directing rioters away from the Senate floor while lawmakers were evacuating the building.
Also being honored are two other Capitol Police officers, Harry Dunn and Caroline Edwards; Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell; Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges and a former officer, Michael Fanone.
Biden is also recognizing Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, and Rusty Bowers, a former Arizona House speaker, who resisted pressure to overturn the election results; and Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss, election workers in Fulton County, Georgia, who were subjected to threats and harassment after ensuring votes in the county were properly tabulated.
“I’m deeply honored to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal from the President of the United States for my work to ensure democracy prevails in Michigan and throughout the nation. As the heroes who stood guard over the nation’s electoral votes at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, can attest, defending every voice and every vote requires courage and commitment to country, our Constitution, and the will of the American voters. This extraordinary recognition affirms in me the hope that we will emerge out of this moment with a democracy that has not only prevailed, but is stronger, healthier, and more robust than ever before. That is what I fight for, what I have hope for, and what I have confidence that all of us working together – coming together across party lines and all else that could divide us – can achieve.”Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
An award is going to Al Schmidt, a former Philadelphia election official who faced public pressure by Trump to stop counting valid ballots. Schmidt, a Republican, will be nominated for the top election administration post in Pennsylvania, secretary of state, by Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro, a Democrat.
The Presidential Citizens Medal, created by President Richard Nixon in 1969, is the country’s second highest civilian honor after the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is awarded to those who “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.”
Follow AP’s coverage of the Capitol riot at https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege