Multiple bills have been introduced in Congress in 2011 seeking congressional gold medals honoring a diverse range of people and groups.
Congressional gold medals are awards authorized by the United States Congress and are, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian awards in the United States. Bronze duplicates are made available for sale to collectors.
In the House of Representatives, on Jan. 24, Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., introduced H.R. 401, seeking a gold medal for Muhammad Ali recognizing his contributions to the nation. Ali, nicknamed “The Greatest,” is a celebrated boxer who in his amateur career recorded 131 wins and only seven losses. He received a gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Games. He became the world heavyweight champion boxer a record three times.
Civil Air Patrol
On Feb. 15, Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., introduced H.R. 719, seeking a gold medal honoring the World War II volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol. A related bill in the Senate, S. 418, was introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, on Feb. 28.
On Feb. 16, Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., introduced H.R. 742, to posthumously award a gold medal to Giuseppe Garibaldi and to the Republic of Italy on the 150th anniversary of its unification. Garibaldi was born July 4, 1807, in Nice, France. He later moved to the United States, returning to Italy in 1854 to serve as commander in the conflicts of the Risorgimento where he led military forces that would provide for the unification of Italy. A related bill, S. 369, was introduced in the Senate on Feb. 16 by Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wy.
Father Mychal Judge
On March 10, Rep. Anthony D. Weiner, D-N.Y., introduced H.R. 1027 to award a gold medal to Father Mychal Judge, the chaplain of the Fire Department of New York who was a victim of the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks in New York City.
On March 31, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., introduced the Shirley Chisholm Congressional Gold Medal Act that would honor Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress. She was elected to represent Brooklyn’s 12th Congressional District in 1968 and served until 1982.
On May 10, Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., introduced a bill seeking to provide a medal honoring African American entertainer Lena Horne, in recognition of her achievements and contributions to American culture and the civil rights movement. Among the congressional gold medal bills introduced in 2011, this one has the most support in Congress with 152 House co-sponsors as of June 2.
In 2010, just a single bill to provide a congressional gold medal became law. Public Law 111-254 granted a gold medal, collectively to the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, United States Army, in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II. Designs for that medal were reviewed during May meetings of the Commission of Fine Arts and of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. ■