Senate Votes To Award Officer Eugene Goodman Congressional Gold Medal
US Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman arrives before US president-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th US President on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee / POOL / AFP)

The Senate voted unanimously Friday evening to award the congressional gold medal to U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman for his actions during the Capitol riot and offered him a standing ovation as he stood inside of the chamber during the proceedings. 

Goodman demonstrated courage, calmness and “foresight in the midst of chaos,” and was willing to “make himself a target of the mob’s rage” to protect others, said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in brief remarks on the senate floor. 

“January 6 was a day of fear for those who work here in the Capitol and of sadness to many more watching from afar,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who spoke in favor of the legislation. “But that awful day also introduced our nation to a group of heroes who we in Congress were already proud to call our colleagues, and to whom we owe a great debt.”

Goodman, now the acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms, came to national attention after video footage circulated widely showing him directing a mob away from the Senate chamber, where lawmakers were still sheltering in place after the Capitol breach. 

Goodman was also recognized this week for a separate action he took that day and that was captured on surveillance video: Directing Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) to run in the opposite direction when he found him walking in the direction of the mob. 

“In the face of lawlessness, the officers of the U.S. Capitol lived out the fullest sense of their oaths,” said McConnell. “If not for the quick thinking and bravery of Officer Eugene Goodman, in particular, people in this chamber may not have escaped that day unharmed. Officer Goodman’s actions reflect a deep personal commitment to duty, and brought even greater distinction upon all the brave brothers and sisters in uniform.”

Now that the Senate has voted in favor of awarding the congressional gold medal to Goodman, the House, which also has to authorize the medal, is expected to issue a similar verdict.

The congressional gold medal is the highest “expression of national appreciation” that can be bestowed by Congress and has been awarded to more than 150 individuals in United States history. Each medal is specially designed to commemorate the recipient. 

Other recipients of the congressional gold medal include Thomas Edison, Robert Frost, Douglass MacArthur, John Wayne, Walt Disney, Frank Sinatra, and Rosa Parks. Foreign recipients include Nelson Mandela, Sir Winston Churchill, and Mother Theresa. 

After former NFL player and disability advocate Steve Gleason received the congressional gold medal in early 2020, the U.S. Mint, which produces the medal, released a video showing how the medal went from a “blank” to the finished product.