On December 9th the U.S. Capitol Historical Society presented our 2020 Freedom Award to Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress. The Freedom Award is presented to individuals or organizations that have advanced public understanding and appreciation for freedom as represented by the U.S. Capitol and Congress. This year, USCHS President and CEO, Jane Campbell, hosted our virtual awards ceremony. It began with the singing of our National Anthem by Morgan State University Choir Member, Darrin Scott. Afterwards, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, thanked Dr. Hayden for all of her work at the Library of Congress and throughout her career.
David Rubenstein then spoke on how he believed that Dr. Hayden would go down as “one of the greatest Librarians of Congress we have ever had.” Rubenstein has a special relationship with Dr. Hayden, sharing that he learned how to read at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, which is where Dr. Hayden served as CEO for twenty-three years. Currently, he works with Dr. Hayden in his role as Chairman of the James Madison Council. He introduced a video montage of other Members of Congress and professional colleagues who also wanted to congratulate Dr. Hayden on her work. Senator Ben Cardin, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie G. Bunch III, Archivist of the United States David Ferriero, United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Former Senator Barbara Mikulski and more were featured in the video.
At the end of the video, attendees raised their glasses in a toast to Dr. Hayden. Next, Senator Roy Blunt, a USCHS Board Trustee, spoke about how he met with Dr. Hayden while serving on the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration when she came before the Committee to be confirmed as the 14th Librarian of Congress in February 2016. Senator Blunt has a unique bond with Dr. Hayden and her mother, Colleen, because of their Missouri ties.
After Senator Blunt’s remarks, Dr. Hayden moderated a panel featuring Pulitzer Prize winning Author and Historian Jon Meacham and Yale professor, Historian and Author Dr. Joanne Freeman. Their discussion was full of entertaining stories and fascinating history, leaving the audience wanting more. At the conclusion of the panel, USCHS Board Chairman Don Carlson announced the presentation of the award to Dr. Hayden while her mother handed the physical award to her in person. Dr. Hayden ended the ceremony with a speech thanking USCHS and dedicating the award to the entire staff at the Library of Congress.
Though our Freedom Award ceremony was a virtual event for the first time, it was, as always, a wonderful display of the characteristics that make the United States stronger and a resounding success. The Society wishes to thank Dr. Hayden for all her work and congratulate her on all her accomplishments.
Thank you to our sponsors that made this event possible: