US Coins

Recognition possible for 70-year medical career

A congressional gold medal is sought in Congress to recognize Dr. Joseph B. Kirsner, who passed away July 7, 2012, at age 102 after more than seven decades in medicine.

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Legislation introduced May 23 seeks a congressional gold medal to recognize Dr. Joseph B. Kirsner for his service to the United States during World War II and his contributions to the medical field, particularly gastroenterology.

H.R. 8542 was introduced in the House by Rep. Brian Mast, R-Florida. The bill was forwarded to the House Committee on Financial Services for  further consideration.

Arriving eight years after the University of Chicago Hospital completed construction and for nearly 74 years thereafter, Dr. Kirsner devoted his life to medicine, teaching and patient care.

Dr. Kirsner joined the United States Army Medical Corps in September 1943 as a first lieutenant, serving three years with the 15th, 203rd and 229th General Hospitals.

He was one of only a handful of doctors consulted on feeding the starving Holocaust survivors.

Congress has awarded a number of medical doctors gold medals recognizing their contributions, including Major Walter Reed and his associates in 1928; Dr. Thomas Anthony Dooley III in 1961; Dr. Jonas E. Salk in 1977; and Dr. Michael Ellis DeBakey in 2007.

Should H.R. 8542 successfully clear the legislative process, the Treasury secretary would have the discretion to direct the U.S. Mint to strike and offer bronze duplicates of the gold medal for public sale.

Traditionally, the bureau has produced 1.5-inch and 3-inch diameter bronze duplicates of each congressional gold medal.

The smaller bronze edition of previous gold medals are offered at $20 each, while the 3-inch versions are priced at $160 each.

Both diameter medals are struck without Mint mark at the Philadelphia Mint and exhibit a Matte finish, but while the bronze composition for the 1.5-inch medal is 95% copper and 5% zinc, for 3-inch version is 90% copper and 10% zinc.

Both are produced with a plain edge.

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