WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal Friday, with President Joe Biden saying she helped safeguard the will of the voters in the November 2020 election.
“Full of integrity, she is a true leader in our nation,” Biden said of Benson.
The ceremony at the White House bestowed Benson and 13 other people with the nation’s second-highest civilian honor on the two-year anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. All of the medal recipients were involved in managing the election or responding to the riot. Other honorees included two Georgia poll workers who were falsely accused of tampering with ballots; Arizona’s speaker of the House, who refused his colleagues’ push to overturn the vote; and Capitol Police officers, including two who died after the Jan. 6 attack.
“History will remember your names,” Biden said.
“To be standing with folks who kept guard over the electoral vote and others in the Capitol in receiving this recognition is really extraordinary,” Benson said. “And it gives me a lot of hope that in a challenging moment for our democracy that we can, I hope, move forward and see our democracy emerge even stronger than ever before.”
Biden praised Benson specifically for refusing to overturn the results despite threats.
“An armed mob outside of her home on Christmas Eve when she and her son were decorating their Christmas tree inside, but she refused to back down,” Biden said.
Benson said she was simply doing her job.
“While there were moments where I felt personally targeted … it was always coupled with a sense of duty and responsibility to stand by the will of the voters,” she said, “and that was something I was very actually proud to do.”
She urged Americans to remember their own role in preserving democracy.
“To see that up close and to be on the front lines of that really re-instilled in my sense, a sense of both the fragility of our democracy and how important it is to have people of integrity on both sides of the aisle,” she said.