Lawmaker proposes Medal of Honor coin
A Pennsylvania congressman is pushing for legislation to honor some of America’s most heroic men and women.
Congressman Christopher Carney, D-Pa., has proposed the Medal of Honor Commemorative Coin Act of 2009. The bill would require the minting of two commemorative coins — one gold and one silver — in 2011 with designs that recognize the three Medals of Honor. The Army, Navy and Air Force each have separate Medal of Honor designs.
"The congressman is in the Navy Reserve. He is committed to pushing military service," said Vincent Rongione, director of communications and special projects for Carney’s office. "Proceeds from the sale of the coins will go to educate people about the (Medal of Honor) recipients."
Carney is a commander-select with a Navy Reserve unit based in northeast Pennsylvania, Rongione said.
The congressman’s bill notes that the Medal of Honor was established in 1861 and is the nation’s highest award for valor in action against an enemy. And it has been presented to the recipients by the president in the name of Congress to fewer than 3,500 servicemembers.
Carney’s legislation calls for recognizing the Medal of Honor with 100,000 $5 gold coins and no more than 500,000 $1 silver coins. Those coins would be legal tender. The gold coin cost would include a surcharge of $35 and the silver coin a surcharge of $10.
Another purpose of the bill would be to raise funds for initiatives that promote the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s purpose, the bill indicated.
Officials with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society said they had not seen the legislation and could not comment, but they did hear that something to recognize the Medal of Honor had been proposed.
Officials with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, which was started by the society, said they were aware of Carney’s bill.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Nicholas Kehoe, the foundation’s president, said, "2011 is the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor, and I think it would create a lot of awareness. I think it is totally appropriate."
Kehoe, who was busy helping prepare for dinners honoring Medal of Honor recipients before National Medal of Honor Day on Wednesday, said recipients are aware of the proposed legislation and they support it.
The foundation started the move to get a coin minted, and Carney must have heard about it, he said.
But Rongione admitted that getting Congress to approve the bill is far from being a done deal. Every year the U.S. mint makes two commemorative coins. One of the slots is already taken for 2011 and Carney’s legislation is competing against six other bills to print commemorative coins in 2011.
"We are really excited about it and we certainly hope that our coin is selected as the second coin because it is a great message to send," Rongione said.