Published April 18, 2006
Rep. Bill Shuster, a Republican whose district contains the western Pennsylvania field in Shanksville, Pa., where the planed crashed, said their fight to bring down the plane may have prevented hijackers from crashing it into the Capitol or White House.
"Their actions preserved the American symbols of democracy," Shuster said.
Last week, during the trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, cockpit recordings were released that vividly revealed the struggle between passengers and hijackers — an action that had been described in the official 9/11 Commission report.
The bill was filed on April 6, before the recordings were released, but Shuster's spokesman said they reiterated the heroic acts committed by the passengers and crew.
The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress' highest award. Civil rights activist Rosa Parks and Olympian Jesse Owens are among the approximately 300 individuals and groups that have received it since 1776.
Two-thirds of all members in the House or Senate have to sign on to the effort before it will even be considered at committee level in either the House or Senate. Shuster's bill has 23 co-sponsors.
The flight was en route to San Francisco from Newark, N.J., when it was brought down. The 33 passengers, seven crew members, and four hijackers on board died.