On January 4, 2022, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society announced that the recipients of its 2021 Freedom Award are the Congressional leaders who worked in a bipartisan manner to oversee the certification of the 2020 presidential election: the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO); and the Chair of the House Administration Committee, U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). The Freedom Award is presented annually to individuals who exhibit extraordinary dedication to freedom, democracy, and representative government.
“The peaceful transfer of power is the most important part of our American experiment and the reason why we still enjoy the longest continuous democracy in world history,” said the Honorable Jane L. Campbell, President and CEO of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. “Our Founders knew that a new nation, conceived in Liberty, would only survive if our citizens believe in the principles of democracy and our leaders fight to uphold the U.S. Constitution. January 6, 2021 was one of the darkest days in our history, but it also taught us that democracy is stronger than violence and our system is greater than any one person or partisan faction. Among that day’s many heroes were the recipients of our 2021 Freedom Award. In the wake of the attack, Senators Klobuchar and Blunt, and Representative Lofgren, put country before party to certify the results of a free and fair election. More than protecting ballots, their courage and dedication to democracy protected the American way of life.”
“When an angry violent mob staged an insurrection on January 6th and desecrated our Capitol — the temple of our democracy — it was not just an attack on the building, it was an attack on our Republic itself. But democracy prevailed that day and each state’s certified electoral votes were counted, just as they had been after every other presidential election in our nation’s history,” said Klobuchar. “As my late colleague John McCain once said, ‘nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself.’ That was true on January 6th, and that remains true as we continue working to preserve and strengthen our democracy. Thank you to the United States Capitol Historical Society for this award. It is truly an honor.”
“George Washington believed that the inauguration of the second person to be president would be more significant than his. The peaceful transition of power is critical to the future of democracy,” said Blunt. “When we finished the work of certifying the election in the early morning hours of January 7, I felt the Congress and Vice President Pence had done all we could to begin the process of restoring our reputation as a democracy that works. I’m especially grateful for the U.S. Capitol Police, D.C. Metropolitan Police, National Guard, and other responding law enforcement agencies that defended the Capitol and made it possible for us to finish our work.”
“January 6 was a dark day in America. But after a violent, insurrectionist mob attacked the Capitol, our democracy prevailed,” said Lofgren. “We are indebted to the men and women of the United States Capitol Police, the Metropolitan Police Department, and law enforcement partners who, exhausted and greatly outnumbered, bravely fought to defend us. We are also thankful for the institutional staff of Congress, whose tireless efforts in the wake of the assault allowed the Congress to return to the House floor and finish our Constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election.”
On January 6, 2021, protesters attacked the U.S. Capitol during the certification of the 2020 election results. At 1:00 p.m. ET, Members of Congress gathered for a joint session in the House of Representatives to count the votes of the Electoral College. Shortly thereafter, rioters began clashing with Capitol Police outside of the U.S. Capitol and subsequently breached the building. By 4:00 p.m. ET, Congressional leaders were evacuated from the U.S. Capitol structure. But four hours later, through the courage and will of the Electoral College Tellers—this year’s Freedom Award recipients—Congress reconvened to resume its important and necessary work. By 3:40 a.m. ET, the Tellers finally opened, presented, and recorded every state’s votes, certifying the 2020 Presidential election, and ensuring the legal transfer of power for the 45th time in United States history.
The U.S. Capitol Historical Society created its Freedom Award to honor individuals and organizations that advance greater public understanding and appreciation for freedom, as represented by the U.S. Capitol and of Congress. The Freedom Award was first presented on September 17, 1993 on the eve of the 200th anniversary of George Washington laying the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol. The award is named for the statue that graces the Capitol’s Dome: Freedom.
The U.S. Capitol Historical Society was founded in 1962 by U.S. Representative Fred Schwengel. The Society is chartered by Congress to educate the public on the history and heritage of the U.S. Capitol, its institutions, and the people who have served therein, in order to foster an “informed patriotism.” Societal activities include educational tours, scholarly symposia, enhancement and preservation of the Capitol’s collection of art and artifacts, sponsorship of research on the public careers of those who have served in the Capitol, and assistance to Congressional and other Capitol offices. The Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, tax-exempt, educational 501(c)3 organization.
The U.S. Capitol Historical Society believes that the January 6 attack on “the people’s house” was among the most significant—and tragic—events in American history. To ensure that the day’s stories are never lost to time, the Society is also conducting an oral history project to preserve these memories, and their lessons, for future generations of American citizens, scholars, and patriots. The Society invites the Capitol Hill and Congressional communities to participate in the project, including Capitol Hill residents, Members and staffs of both parties, U.S. Capitol building employees, and the families of any person impacted by January 6. Among the partners and allies of the “January 6 Oral History Project” is the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), Former Members of Congress (FMC), and Alliance for Congress.
Those interested can share their story and learn more about the project at January6History.org. For those seeking temporary or long-term anonymity, your options are stated in the project’s screening form.