Biden honors 14 people for defending democracy in ceremony marking Jan. 6 insurrection

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During a ceremony at the White House on Friday, President Biden awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal to 14 people for their actions against the insurrection that sought to overturn the 2020 election.

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: Two years ago on January the 6th, our democracy was attacked. There's no other way of saying it. The US capital was breached, which had never happened before in the history of the United States of America, even during the Civil War. A violent mob of insurrectionists assaulted law enforcement, vandalized sacred halls, hunted down elected officials, all for the purpose of attempt to overthrow the will of the people and usurp the peaceful transfer of power. All of it, all of it was fueled by lies about the 2020 election.

But on this day two years ago, our democracy held because we the people, as the Constitution refers to us, we the people did not flinch. We the people endured. We the people prevailed.

And in this day of remembrance, joined by the Vice President and the Second Gentleman and all of you, we honor a remarkable group of Americans who embodied the best before, during, and after January the 6th, 2021. For the first time in my presidency, I'm bestowing the Presidential Citizen's Medal, one of our nation's highest civilian honors. It recognizes, quote, "citizens of the United States of America who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens," end of quote.

In a few moments, in a few moments, the full citation of their exemplary deeds will be read by a military aide. But this is who these people, these extraordinary Americans are. Heroic law enforcement officers, as Congressman Benny Thompson said, a man of immense character and honor himself, eloquently said about these officers, he said, quote, "You held the line that day and what was on the line was our democracy. And history will remember your names."

And history will remember your names and remember your courage and remember your bravery and remember your extraordinary commitments to your fellow Americans. It's not hyperbole. That's a fact. That's a fact.

Folks, history is also going to remember your instincts to respond to do something, as you did. And as we all watched-- this is the irony of it all-- of America watched it, watched it on television and saw it repeated and repeated. In the past months, we've heard you testify to the nation about what happened that day, what you were thinking of at the time it was happening, what you're thinking now, the threats, the violence the savageness of what happened, the trauma, all real. And it's not exaggeration to say America owes you, owes you all-- I really mean this-- a debt, a debt of gratitude, one we can never fully repay unless we live up to what you did, live up to what you did. And what you did was truly consequential, not a joke.