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Biden Marks Second Anniversary of Capitol Insurrection

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Gladys Sicknick, mother of the late U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, holds the medal President Joe Biden awarded to her son, at a White House ceremony Jan. 6, 2023, marking the anniversary of the assault on the Capitol. Sicknick's father Charles is at right.

U.S. President Joe Biden marked the second anniversary of the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Friday with an awards ceremony, honoring members of law enforcement who defended the building as well as lawmakers and civil servants who resisted pressure to overturn the 2020 election results.

“On this day two years ago, our democracy held, because we the people — as our Constitution refers to us — did not flinch; we the people endured; we the people prevailed,” Biden told a gathering in the East Room of the White House.

FILE - People loyal to then-President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington.
FILE - People loyal to then-President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington.

During the attack, supporters of former President Donald Trump broke through police barricades at the Capitol and entered the building to try to block the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election. Trump had argued without evidence that the election had been stolen from him by voter fraud.

On Friday, Biden gave 12 honorees the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation's second-highest civilian award, calling them “patriots who have performed exemplary deeds in the service of this nation.”

They included seven members of law enforcement, including a posthumous award to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the days following the attack.

Sicknick’s estate filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Thursday against Trump, seeking $10 million in damages.

"Defendant Trump intentionally riled up the crowd and directed and encouraged a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol and attack those who opposed them," according to the estate’s court filing.

Also recognized at Friday’s ceremony were Michigan's secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, and former Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who resisted efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

Another awardee was Al Schmidt, a former Philadelphia election official who faced pressure to stop counting the vote.

“He did not bend, he did not bow, he did not yield to the political threats and pressure,” Biden said.

“He is so trusted by both political parties that the new Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, appointed him as Pennsylvania’s secretary of state … that’s a high compliment,” Biden added.

The president said that the medal awardees protected democracy following the 2020 election and that all Americans must be willing to act similarly to ensure democracy is protected.

"January 6 is a reminder that there is nothing guaranteed about our democracy. … Every generation is required to earn it, defend it, protect it,” he said.

Biden recounted that during his first meeting as president with leaders from the Group of 7 major industrial nations in February 2021, he told them that “America is back.”

“Do you know what the response was? Not a joke: ‘For how long?’” Biden said.

The president praised Congress for recently passing the Electoral Count Reform Act. The measure seeks to avoid a repeat of 2021 efforts by some lawmakers to not certify Biden’s election win.

Logan Evans and Abigail Evans, children of the late U.S. Capitol Police Officer William "Billy" Evans, accompanied by their mother Shannon Terranova, speak their father's name during a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the violent insurrection by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, in Washington, Jan. 6, 2023.
Logan Evans and Abigail Evans, children of the late U.S. Capitol Police Officer William "Billy" Evans, accompanied by their mother Shannon Terranova, speak their father's name during a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the violent insurrection by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, in Washington, Jan. 6, 2023.

Members of Congress commemorated the anniversary of the January 2021 attack Friday with a bipartisan group gathering at the building’s East Front steps to honor the officers who died or were injured as a result of the attack.

The commemorations took place as House Republicans attempted for a fourth day Friday to choose a speaker.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said in a statement, “This anniversary should serve as a wake-up call to the Republican Party to reject MAGA [Make America Great Again] radicalism, which has time and time again led to Republican failures. Unfortunately, the utter pandemonium wrought by House Republicans this week is just one example of how the extreme fringe of their party, led by election deniers, is pulling them further into chaos and making it impossible for them to govern.”

Republicans who are holding up the vote for speaker say they want to reduce the power of the speaker’s office and give rank-and-file lawmakers more influence over the creation and passage of legislation.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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