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Secretary Benson to receive Presidential Citizens Medal

Second-highest civilian award to be presented on second anniversary of U.S. Capitol insurrection

LANSING, Mich. – Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will receive the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Joe Biden in a White House ceremony this Friday, Jan. 6 for her work protecting democracy. The medal is the nation’s second-highest civilian award and will be presented on the second anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“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,” said Benson. “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.”

The Presidential Citizens Medal is awarded to Americans for exemplary deeds or services performed for a person’s country or fellow citizens. It was established by Executive Order under President Nixon in 1969. Previous recipients include Hank Aaron, Ruby Bridges, Gen. Colin Powell, and Muhammad Ali.
Benson will receive the medal alongside other democracy defenders including election workers and Capitol Police in a ceremony at the White House on Friday at 2 p.m.

The White House will also honor the following people with a Presidential Citizens Medal on Friday:

  • Rusty Bowers served as the Arizona House Speaker during the 2020 election, resisting pressure from those seeking to overturn the election results. He received the 2022 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award.

  • Harry Dunn is a Capitol Police Officer who defended the Capitol on January 6th, facing racial slurs and harassment from rioters. Dunn has served in the Capitol Police force for nearly 15 years.

  • Caroline Edwards was the first law enforcement officer injured by rioters on January 6th. Even after suffering a traumatic brain injury, Officer Edwards worked to prevent rioters from entering the Capitol building. Officer Edwards has served in law enforcement for nearly six years.

  • Michael Fanone served as a Metropolitan Police Department Officer and defended the Capitol on January 6th, suffering injuries during the attack. After the attack, he resigned from the Metropolitan Police Department, having served for 20 years after joining in the wake of September 11th.

  • Ruby Freeman served as an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 election. Ms. Freeman worked to ensure that the people of Georgia could vote freely and fairly, and, for simply doing her job, was forced to withstand efforts to overturn the election that targeted and threatened her and her family.

  • Aquilino Gonell served as a Capitol Police Sergeant and defended the Capitol on January 6th, suffering injuries during the attack. Sergeant Gonell is an emigrant from the Dominican Republic and a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq.

  • Eugene Goodman is a Capitol Police Officer who defended the Capitol on January 6th. He is credited with diverting rioters from the floor of the Senate while members were still evacuating. Officer Goodman is a U.S. Army veteran and, from January 20, 2021, to March 2, 2021, served as Acting Deputy Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. Senate.

  • Daniel Hodges is a Metropolitan Police Department Officer who defended the Capitol on January 6th, suffering injuries during the attack. The day of the attack was Hodges’s first time ever in the Capitol. Officer Hodges has served in the Metropolitan Police Department for over seven years.

  • Shaye Moss served as an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 election. Like her mother, Ruby Freeman – who was also a Fulton County election worker and will also receive the Presidential Citizen Medal – Ms. Moss was subjected to threats and harassment in the wake of the election. Ms. Moss received the 2022 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award.

  • Al Schmidt is a former federal civil servant and served as a city commissioner on the Philadelphia County Board of Elections. During the 2020 election, he kept the vote tally going in the face of pressure and efforts to overturn the election.

  • Brian Sicknick (posthumous) was a Capitol Police officer who defended the Capitol on January 6th. After he lost his life protecting our elected representatives, Officer Sicknick was laid in honor in the Capitol rotunda in February 2021. The President, the First Lady, the Vice President, and the Second Gentleman visited to pay respects. In addition to guarding the Capitol for over a decade, Officer Sicknick also served in the New Jersey Air National Guard and was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan.

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