Relatives of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 are stepping up pressure on Congress to decide whether the people who died fighting their attackers on Sept. 11, 2001, deserve the nation’s highest civilian award. Bills to honor the actions of those on Flight 93 have been popping up since days after the plane crashed in a field outside Shanksville, Pa., during a passenger-led attack against their al-Qaeda hijackers that prevented a possible strike on the White House or the U.S. Capitol.
Five bills have been introduced in six years to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Flight 93’s passengers and crew. Some bills called for a medal for the men who attacked the terrorists, an event gleaned from phone calls from passengers to loved ones aboard. But a decision on whether to award a medal that was also bestowed on George Washington and the 1980 U.S. Summer Olympic Team has languished. Some bills called for everyone who died that day to get a medal; others just a few, or even creating a new honor. Some say everyone who died that day deserves a medal. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed awarding specially minted medals for the “Fallen Heroes of 9/11” to all 2,974 people killed.