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LANSING, Mich. – Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Joe Biden in a White House ceremony on 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 received 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 also honored 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.
By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Senior National Correspondent
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has announced an historic, $9.6 billion investment over the next five years to electrify its delivery fleet.
The USPS investment includes electrifying 75% of its new purpose-built Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV) and a commitment to acquire 100% electric NGDVs starting in 2026.
With the announcement, federal officials said the USPS “demonstrates how it is leading by example for the Federal Government in achieving President Biden’s charge to electrify the U.S. Government’s 650,000 vehicles.”
The $9.6 billion investment – which includes $3 billion in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act – installs modern charging infrastructure at hundreds of USPS facilities, electrifies 66,000 delivery vehicles, “and modernizes mail delivery by creating a smarter network to more efficiently reach its 163 million delivery locations across the country and further strengthen the sustainability of this critical public service,” White House officials said.
Last year, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act to help bring down everyday costs – including costs for energy.
Administration officials said the Inflation Reduction Act’s once-in-a-generation investment in America’s infrastructure “delivers the most significant action ever to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen U.S. energy security, including $3 billion to modernize the USPS delivery fleet.”
The new announcement sustains “reliable mail service to Americans while modernizing the fleet, reducing operating costs, increasing clean air in our neighborhoods, creating jobs, and improving public health,” officials noted in a news release.
Biden’s ambitious goal for 50% of new vehicles sold in 2030 to be electric has accelerated investments and jumpstarted the EV market in America, officials said.
Since Biden took office, U.S. electric vehicle sales reportedly have tripled and are now higher than ever before.
One year ago, through the president’s Executive Order on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability, the Biden-Harris Administration released the most ambitious sustainability plan ever, establishing a goal for 100% acquisition of zero emission light-duty vehicles by 2027 and medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2035.
Now, the USPS said it would exceed Biden’s requirement for each agency to electrify its federal fleet.
Over the next five years, the Postal Service will purchase 45,000 specialized USPS NGDV electric vehicles and 21,000 commercial off-the-shelf electric vehicles.
“We commend the U.S. Postal Service,” John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President, said in a news release.
“The USPS plan leverages the $3 billion provided by the Inflation Reduction Act to hit the target of 100% electric delivery vehicle purchases in 2026, sets the postal fleet on a course for electrification, significantly reduces vehicles miles traveled in the network, and places USPS at the forefront of the clean transportation revolution.”
The U.S. government operates the largest vehicle fleet in the world, and USPS is the largest vehicle fleet in the Federal government.
Through the administration’s action, the White House said USPS sets the bar for the rest of the Federal government, and, importantly, the rest of the world.
In the plan, the USPS invests the full $3 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funds to increase ambition and pace in electrifying its fleet, including $1.3 billion for electric delivery vehicles and $1.7 billion for charging infrastructure.
Coupled with $6.6 billion in USPS funds, the overall $9.6 billion, 100,000-vehicle modernization plan results in 66,000 electric delivery vehicles and tens of thousands of charging stations through 2028, and a target of acquiring only electric delivery vehicles after 2026.
“The U.S. Postal Service plan sets the pace for other leading public and private sector fleets. It is clear that the future of transportation is electric – and that future is here,” said Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory.
“As electric mail trucks hit routes across the country, neighborhoods will see cleaner air, better health, and good-paying clean energy jobs.”
Moving packages from point A to point B in a way that’s cleaner, more cost-effective, and accelerating toward an electric vehicle future stamped “Made in America,” said the President’s National Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi.
“This is the Biden climate strategy on wheels, and the U.S. Postal Service delivering for the American people,” Zaidi added.