The Presidential Citizenship Medal was given to 12 living Americans and 2 posthumous, who gave exemplary service to our Country on January 6, 2021. These individuals were law enforcement and state and local officials who defended the U.S. Capitol and upheld the integrity of the 2020 election. They are:
- Jocelyn Benson, the former Michigan secretary of state who faced armed protesters outside her home as she was pressured by those seeking to overturn the 2020 election results.
- Rusty Bowers, the former Arizona House speaker who resisted pressure from people hoping to overturn the election.
- Harry Dunn, a Capitol Police officer who faced harassment from rioters. He has served on the force for nearly 15 years.
- Caroline Edwards, a law enforcement officer who suffered a brain injury as a result of rioters’ actions on Jan. 6, 2021.
- Michael Fanone, a now-retired Metropolitan Police Department officer who was injured in the attack.
- Ruby Freeman, who worked as an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia, and faced threats for doing her job.
- Aquilino Gonell, a Capitol Police sergeant who was injured defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
- Eugene Goodman, a Capitol Police officer who diverted rioters from the Senate floor so members could evacuate.
- Daniel Hodges, a Metropolitan Police Department Officer injured during the attack. Jan. 6, 2021 was his first time ever in the Capitol.
- Shaye Moss, an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 election. Ruby Freeman is her mother.
- Al Schmidt, a former federal civil servant who 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, a Capitol police officer who defended the Capitol. He died the next day.
- Howard C. Liebengood, U.S. Capitol Police (posthumous)
- Jeffrey L. Smith, D.C. Metropolitan Police (posthumous)
There also was a ceremony on the steps of the Capitol to acknowledge this event and honor all who served on this day to protect our Democracy, civil servants, and the Capitol building, our shrine of Democracy. A speech of gratitude was given by Nancy Pelosi, former speaker of the house. In her comments she stated the courage of these individuals brought luster to the medal. While attended by the bulk of the members of the Democratic Party only one representative from the republicans attended, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. What disrespect for those who gave their lives and risked their lives to protect these individuals.
Thus far 700 who participated in the January 6th storming of the Capitol have been arrested in 2021, with 200 in 2022. There is upwards of 3,000 who participated, inclusive of a neurosurgeon, an NFL player, and a funereal director. There is a community of on line investigators known as the “Sedition Hunters,” who have been responsible for identifying and locating these individuals.
Currently there is a book written by the Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund –
Courage Under Fire: Under Siege and Outnumbered 58:1
Believe the ratio in his title says it all. It is said to be a stunning account of one of the darkest days in American history.
Let me end by paraphrasing* from one of the interviews where these heroic Americans were lauded…
They held the line that day, and on the line was democracy.
*Was unable to capture the name of the individual I have quoted from the interview
Also, am remiss in this untimely acknowledgement. As an American who has traveled the world I understand and appreciate all we have in our Country, and send out an enormous gratitude to these individuals who protected us on January 6, 2021.