Legislation seeks honors for military, wartime heroes
- Published: Apr 20, 2019, 5 AM
In early spring, legislation introduced in the 116th Congress included several bills proposing gold medals honoring military and wartime heroes.
The Mexican pilots of Escuadron 201, Rosie the Riveter, and soldiers who defended Bataan and Corregidor in the Philippines during World War II were advanced for honors.
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The three pieces of legislation, House Resolution 1889, Senate bill 892, and H.R. 2192, respectively, were introduced in the House and Senate in March and April and none have had any significant action taken on them since. Each has a military theme relating to World War II, two specifically dealing with that war’s Pacific Theater.
H.R. 1889, aptly titled “Escuadron 201 Gold Medal Act,” was introduced March 26 by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif. The bill seeks to present a gold medal to the pilots of the 201st Fighter Squadron, a Mexican Expeditionary Force air unit attached to the U.S. 58th Fighter Group. The squadron helped to liberate Luzon and Formosa (now known as Taiwan) in the summer of 1945. Escuadron 201 flew hundreds of combat and support missions in the closing months of the war in the Pacific Theater. If the legislation were passed and signed into law, a single medal would be presented collectively to the pilots as a group.
Skopos Lab, a group that specializes in predicting the course of legislative action on bills, gives H.R. 1889 a 3 percent chance of passing, though such a low likelihood of passing is common to many new pieces of legislation early in the process.
Many are familiar with Rosie the Riveter, the bandana- and overall-clad female factory worker of poster fame. She came to symbolize both the emergence of women in the workforce during World War II and the power of American industry, central to tipping the scales in the war.
If S. 892, the “Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2019” were to become law, then all of the women whose labor stateside contributed to the Allied victory would collectively receive the single gold medal awarded to Rosie the Riveter.
Introduced April 9 by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., S. 892 currently has the usual 3 percent chance of passing predicted by Skopos Labs.
Fitting thematically with H.R. 1889 is H.R. 2192, “To grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the troops from the United States and the Philippines who defended Bataan and Corregidor, in recognition of their personal sacrifice and service during World War II,” introduced April 9.
Originating with Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., the legislation, if it became law, would honor the military units composed of both American and Filipino soldiers who fought the Japanese forces that assaulted the Philippines in 1941. Many units suffered high casualty rates and subsequently faced harsh treatment from the occupiers, notably on the Bataan Death March. The bill does not yet have a Skopos rating.
The trio of World War II themed pieces of gold medal legislation will likely remain on the floor for some time before being reviewed by committee and either rejected outright or referred to the other legislative body for further consideration and voting.
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