Designs were recommended May 19 by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee for the three Fallen Heroes of 9/11 congressional gold medals recognizing those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
Public Law 112-76 authorizes the gold medals to be presented to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon Memorial at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., with the understanding that each medal is to be put on permanent, appropriate display. Bronze duplicates of the three medals are to be struck and sold by the United States Mint.
There were a total of 18 proposed obverse and 12 reverse designs for the New York medal; 13 obverse and 11 reverse designs for the Pentagon medal; and 13 obverse and 15 reverse designs for the Pennsylvania medal for the CCAC to consider.
Before the CCAC began their public review of the designs, many of the designs were removed from consideration if there was no support from the panel.
The obverse design recommended by the CCAC for the New York medal is one of three renditions reflecting the work and sacrifice of all who assisted in rescue operations at the World Trade Center (WTC) on Sept. 11, 2001.
"NYC911" symbolizes both the date and the emergency response of the New York Police Department, New York Fire Department, local emergency medical technician personnel, and civilians who ran in as others ran out. A determined firefighter who climbed the stairs of the WTC towers only to meet his or her death in the collapse is pictured.
“This is a statement of the extreme level of commitment, integrity, compassion, and bravery of all who died that day trying to save others,” according to the U.S. Mint’s design narrative. “On the left of designs 01 and 01A is the ghostly image of the ruins of the WTC, which serve as a reminder of the enormity and the finality of the disaster.”
The CCAC-recommended obverse, Design 01, depicts the firefighter more to the left, with more of the collapsing WTC wreckage visible.
There was debate between CCAC members as to whether Obverse Design 01A should be the recommended design. It focuses more on the firefighter and not the WTC. Discussion included comments that Design 01 fully captures the frustration, desperation and futility rescue personnel faced.