House Passes Honor For Sept. 11 Rescuers

by: Ellen Yan, Washington Bureau, newsday.com, 12/19/01

Washington - A congressional honor for perished rescuers, a new name for a Deer Park post office and an inspiration day won House passage yesterday as local lawmakers continued to respond to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) pressed the bill to award Congress' highest civilian honor - the Congressional Gold Medal - to government workers who died responding to the terrorist attacks and to passengers aboard United flight 93 who fought the hijackers and kept the airliner from making its way to the nation's capital.

Families of other victims who performed heroically would apply to the Treasury Department for the honor. The bill passed 392 to 2; the two votes against were Amo Houghton, a Republican from upstate New York, and Ron Paul (R-Texas).

"These are the people who fought the first battle of the first great war of the 21st century," King said.

Another measure, offered by Rep. Felix Grucci (R-East Patchogue) and passed by the House on a voice vote, put the House on record supporting a national day of motivation and inspiration.

In the post 9/11 world, according to Grucci, Jan. 2 would be the perfect National Motivation and Inspiration Day, a time for reflection. Grucci said motivation is critical to success; children need mentors to be motivated; and mentors in turn become motivated by inspiring the young.

A third measure by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), passed 393 to 0, would rename a Deer Park post office to honor New York City fire chief Raymond Downey, who died at the World Trade Center. Israel said Downey was a true hero and "His colleagues knew that and called him 'God.'"

All three measures now go to the Senate, where little action is expected this year.

The bills represent just some of the many ideas that have resulted from the terror attacks. Other bills would do everything from creating commemoration coins to allowing tax write-offs for visits to New York City. President George W. Bush recently signed into law a proposal by Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Jamaica Estates) to create a fund-raising stamp for survivors of rescuers.