Congress considers medals for 9/11's Flight 93 victims

Congress considers medals for 9/11's Flight 93 victims

By Oren Dorell,
April 8th, 2008

Relatives of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 are stepping up pressure on Congress to decide whether the people who died fighting their attackers on Sept. 11, 2001, deserve the nation's highest civilian award.

Bills to honor the actions of those on Flight 93 have been popping up since days after the plane crashed in a field outside Shanksville, Pa., during a passenger-led attack against their al-Qaeda hijackers that prevented a possible strike on the White House or the U.S. Capitol.

Five bills have been introduced in six years to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Flight 93's passengers and crew. Some bills called for a medal for the men who attacked the terrorists, an event gleaned from phone calls from passengers to loved ones aboard.

But a decision on whether to award a medal that was also bestowed on George Washington, Walt Disney and the 1980 U.S. Summer Olympic Team has languished. Some bills called for everyone who died that day to get a medal; others just a few, or even creating a new honor.

"It's frustrating," said Hamilton Peterson, whose father and stepmother died on Flight 93. "Enough time has passed."

Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania said the 40 passengers and crewmembers each deserve a medal for extraordinary heroism.

"They found out what was happening and they took it upon themselves and they gave their lives," said Shuster, a Republican.

The awarding of a medal requires the approval of two-thirds of the House and Senate. Shuster's bill went nowhere last year, and he has since tried to work out a deal as colleagues weigh in with proposals of their own. One compromise Shuster came up with is to award one medal and display it at the memorial to be built in Shanksville.

Still, some say everyone who died that day deserves a medal.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed awarding specially minted medals for the "Fallen Heroes of 9/11" to all 2,974 people killed in the al-Qaeda attacks. "When it comes to the still unfathomable tragedy that is 9/11, there is no sense in establishing a hierarchy of heroism," Schumer said in a statement. "They were all heroes."

Schumer's spokesman, Brian Fallon, said the senator supports the placing of a Congressional Gold Medal at each crash site, in addition to the new medal.

Charlie Caputo, president of the New York State Fraternal Order of Police, likes that idea.

"If there's going to be a dispute, why not join hands and give medals to everybody," Caputo said, including the emergency workers who rushed to the twin towers.

Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93, argues special honor should be given to those who prevented another massacre by sacrificing their lives. He said Schumer is more concerned about taking care of his constituents.

"In New York, the senator is working with numerous groups who were involved and maybe are seeking similar recognition," Felt said, referring to rescue workers.

Shuster agrees the firefighters and police who died at the World Trade Center "deserve great credit," but the men and women of Flight 93 are different because "average Americans stood up and attacked."

Debra Burlingame is the sister of Capt. Charles "Chic" Burlingame, a pilot who died when his American Airlines flight crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11. She agrees that the people on Flight 93 deserve an honor beyond what others receive.

"They were magnificent. And that story should be told," she said. "When you acknowledge them with these kind of historic gestures you make sure that those stories never die."

My Comment:

"..some say everyone who died that day deserves a medal."

Well how about first honoring ALL the victims and their loved ones, and the rest of us, with a REAL investigation, hmmm ???

(instead of the perpetuation of propaganda and myths, and more PsyOps)

Sorry Congress Critters. You cannot honor victims with silence and medals You honor them by asking questions and demanding honest answers.

Truth before medals please !