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Biden approves two more congressional gold medals

(Lower right) Iranian students storm the U.S. embassy in 1979 in Tehran. (Background) Mamie Till-Mobley was relentless in the pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son. Emmett Till, who was kidnapped in Mississippi in 1955 and shot to death.

Iranian student image in the public domain. Till and Mobley image from the Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Two pieces of legislation seeking congressional gold medals have been signed into law by President Biden, while a third bill awaits his signature.

H.R. 310 was signed into law Dec. 21, authorizing a gold medal to be awarded posthumously and collectively, to Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Christopher Stevens and Sean Smith in recognition of their contributions to the nation.

The enabling legislation, enacted as Public Law 117-256, was introduced into the U.S. House on Jan. 13, 2021, by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass. 

The four Americans to be recognized were killed Sept. 11, 2012, when the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by militants.

Stevens was serving as the U.S. ambassador to Libya at the time of his death.

Doherty and Woods were retired Navy SEALS who served as security personnel at the consulate. Smith, a former member of the U.S. Air Force, was attached to the U.S. State Department.

After the gold medal is formally presented by the congressional leadership, the medal is to be forwarded to the Central Intelligence Agency Museum in McLean, Virginia, for display and be made available for research.

Iran hostages

On Dec. 27, Biden signed into law S. 2607, authorizing a congressional gold medal to collectively recognize the 53 Americans taken hostage Nov. 4, 1979, by Iranian militants supportive of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and held captive until their release on Jan. 21, 1981.

Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., introduced S. 2607 on Aug. 4, 2021, with the Senate passing the bill on Dec. 6, 2022, followed by passage in the House on Dec. 14 before moving to Biden on Dec. 23.

The enacted law is now identified as Public Law 117-320.

After presentation, the gold medal “shall be given to the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution, where it shall be available for display as appropriate and made available for research,” according to the law.

Awaiting signature

S. 450, the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Congressional Gold Medal Act, was sent to Biden on Dec. 28.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., introduced the bill on Feb. 25, 2021. The House passed the legislation on Jan. 10, 2022, followed by the Senate on Dec. 21.

After presentation, the medal is to be forwarded to National Museum of African American History and Culture for public display.

On Aug. 28, 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was kidnapped, beaten, and shot in Money, Mississippi, where he had traveled from Chicago to stay with his great uncle, Moses Wright.

Till’s accused murderers were tried and acquitted of the lynching despite eyewitness testimony during the trial.

Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, was relentless in pursuit of justice for her slain son as co-founder of the Emmett Till Justice Campaign.

Her efforts led to the reopening of the investigation in 2004 into Emmett’s death and ultimate passage of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007 (Public Law 110–344; 122 Stat. 3934), and the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016 (Public Law 114–325; 130 Stat. 1965).

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