Two years after rioters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election, President Joe Biden honored civilians who he said stood up for democracy in a time of uncertainty.
Biden bestowed the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest civilian honor in the U.S., on police officers, election workers, and public officials at a White House ceremony. Three of the medals were awarded posthumously to officers who had defended the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and died afterward by injuries or by suicide.
The award ceremony was Biden’s first time bestowing the Presidential Citizens Medal, which is given to Americans “who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.”
“History will remember your names. They will remember your courage. They will remember your bravery,” Biden said. “They will remember your extraordinary commitment to your fellow Americans.”
The honorees were recognized for their actions before, during, and after the riot, when a mob of former President Donald Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol, fighting with officers, destroying and stealing property, and threatening lawmakers.
a Presidential Citizens Medal during a ceremony to mark the two-year anniversary of the January 6th 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol in the East Room of the White House January 6, 2023. Biden awarded over a dozen Presidential Citizens Medals to police officers who defended the Capitol and state officials who resisted pressure to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Thousands of Donald Trump supporters gathered outside the White House to hear the then-president give a disgruntled speech, amid his baseless claims that election fraud caused his 2020 loss to Biden.
The mob forced legislators to leave their chambers for several hours and prevented the transfer of power. During the attack, more than 100 officers were injured, and federal officials estimate that the insurrection cost millions of dollars in damages.
“America owes you all, I really mean this, a debt of gratitude,” Biden said during his remarks.
Among the 12 people awarded Friday were Capitol Police Officers Eugene Goodman, who diverted a group of rioters hurtling toward the Senate chamber, and Harry Dunn, who testified before the House Committee about facing racial slurs and harassment while responding to the breach.
In addition, Biden recognized Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss, two election officials in Fulton County, Georgia, who had endured intimidation and threats due to the state’s unfounded conspiracy theories about voter fraud.
The President’s speech marking the anniversary of the insurrection came after other memorial services and ceremonies on Capitol Hill, most of which were led by Democratic lawmakers.