House OKs Medals for 9/11 Rescuers Who Died

Copyright 2002 Newsday, Inc.
Newsday (New York, NY)...07/23/2002


Washington - Rescue workers and others who lost their lives responding to the Sept. 11 attacks would posthumously be awarded Congressional Gold Medals, the body's highest honor, under a bill the House passed yesterday.

The True American Heroes Act also would create commemorative coins in honor of Sept. 11 victims, which will likely be engraved with an image of the World Trade Center on one side and the Pentagon on the other.

"We want to honor everyone who was killed that day and honor the country for coming together the way it did," said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who co-sponsored the legislation. King said he will push for "the president to sign this by Sept. 11" to honor the anniversary of the attacks.

A medal would be given to the families of those who perished, and would be displayed in every precinct house, fire station and emergency response station in the city that lost one of their own in the rescue efforts.

A version of the bill was passed by the House in December but ran into concerns in the Senate, where some felt the passengers who acted to bring down United Airlines Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pa., were being overlooked.

After including those passengers and merging with another bill to create the Spirit of America coin proposed by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx), the combined bill returned to the House and was passed by a voice vote yesterday.

The bill may face new concerns in the Senate, however, where Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is threatening to hold up the measure, congressional sources say, unless everyone on Flight 93 is posthumously presented the medal. Under the House bill, those decisions would be left up to the Justice Department.