In 2016, Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives recognized 325 youth across the nation with the Congressional Award Gold Medal. Since the program’s inception in 1979, this was the largest class of Gold Medalists ever. The Gold Medal Ceremony took place on Thursday, June 16th in the Cannon Caucus Room on Capitol Hill. Over a thousand guests – ranging from Members of Congress, families and friends, corporate sponsors, and partnering organizations – convened to celebrate the monumental achievements of America’s youth.
At the morning ceremony, we were welcomed by our Master of Ceremony Ms. Ailsa Chang, Congressional Correspondent for NPR. Following the Presentation of the Colors and singing of the National Anthem by the U.S. Capitol Police Ceremonial Unit, Fr. Patrick Conroy, Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, delivered the invocation. Chairman Paxton Baker then introduced Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who provided welcoming remarks and gave inspiring words of encouragement to the Gold Medalists.
Multiple Members of Congress recognized medalists from Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Wyoming. To conclude the morning ceremony, Representative Mia Love of Utah’s 4th congressional district presented Laura and Mike O’Connor with the Inspiration Award (Advisor of the Year) for shepherding hundreds of youth through the program.
In the afternoon ceremony, Mr. Devin Dwyer, Contributing Correspondent and Coordinating Producer from ABC News, lent his talents as our Master of Ceremony. Rear Admiral Barry Black, Chaplain of the United States Senate, delivered an invocation that left an indelible mark on our guests. The Honorable Richard Hudson, U.S. Representative for North Carolina’s 8th congressional district and Congressional Award Board Member, gave remarks on selflessness and harnessing passions.
Gold Medalists from Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin were honored in the afternoon.
The 2016 Gold Medalists contributed more than 153,000 hours of voluntary public service to their communities through the Congressional Award; an average of 464 hours each. The annual Gold Medal Ceremony continues to serve as a platform for Members of Congress to recognize citizenship and goal-setting in their young constituents. What these young people have accomplished is truly remarkable.
The achievements of this year’s Gold Medalists has been recognized by the Senate Majority Leader in the Congressional Record.