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Posts tagged ‘Congressional Gold Medal’

Dalai Lama to Open US Senate Session With Prayer.

The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, will give the opening prayer on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Thursday, the first time he has done so, reports said.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said he and his committee also would host the Dalai Lama on Thursday afternoon. The Tibetan holy man is expected to meet with House leaders as well, The Hill reported.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black usually opens the Senate session with a prayer.

The Dalai Lama, who first visited the United States in 1979, has been in the country for a few weeks, sparking a controversy along the way.

President Barack Obama met with the spiritual leader in the White House two weeks ago — their third talk in recent years, the Washington Post reported.

China, which angrily objected to the meeting, calls the Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959, a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” who seeks to use violent methods to establish an independent Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, 78, says he wants autonomy for Tibet and denies advocating violence.

During the White House meeting, Obama reiterated the U.S. stance against an independent Tibet but encouraged dialogue between the two countries.

“The president commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence and expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s ‘middle way’ approach,” the White House said of the meeting, The Hill reported.

The Dalai Lama has appeared on Capitol Hill before for meetings with congressional leaders, and was awarded Congress’ highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, during a 2007 ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in an event attended by President George W. Bush.

In 2009, he focused on compassion in an opening prayer for the New York State Senate.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

Mom Urges Congress to Bestow Gold Medal on Fallen Benghazi Heroes.

Image: Mom Urges Congress to Bestow Gold Medal on Fallen Benghazi Heroes

Kate Quigley, right, sister of Glen Doherty, and Dorothy Woods, left, wife of Tyrone Woods, stand with Sea Cadet Andrew Culp after plaques were unveiled in Doherty’s and Woods’ honor during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Mount Soledad Veteran’s Memorial in La Jolla, Calif. on May 27.

By David A. Patten


A campaign is gaining momentum in Congress to honor Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, the two Navy Seals who died defending the compound in Benghazi, by granting them the Congressional Gold Medal — the highest civilian award bestowed by the U.S. Congress.

Pro-military veteran activist Debbie Lee spent the one-year anniversary of the deadly attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi meeting with members of Congress to seek their support for the awards. Lee is founder of America’s Mighty Warriors, an activist group she founded in honor of her son, Marc Alan Lee, the first Navy Seal to be killed in Iraq. The group actively supports veterans and their families.

Lee tells Newsmax that she’s urging Congress to honor Doherty and Woods because of her unique empathy for the profound sacrifice that the two men and their families made on behalf of their country.

“I think the least we can do to honor them is award them the Congressional Gold Medal,” Lee says. “The statement that this makes to their families is that we will never forget the sacrifice that they made.

Tyrone Snowden Woods was a Navy Seal who had served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq before he joined the State Department Diplomatic Security unit. Glen Doherty, a friend of Woods, also was a former Navy Seal. He had seen extensive action in the Middle East before retiring to become a private contractor for the State Department.

On Sept. 11, 2012, the two men took to the rooftop of the Benghazi compound to fight off the jihadi rebels swarming into the facility. The battle in Benghazi spanned over 7-and-a-half hours, and has become the focus of congressional hearings.

Woods and Doherty sustained fatal mortar and gunfire wounds. Two others also died in the attack: U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and information-management officer Sean Smith. Stevens became the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in a hostile military action since 1979.

The online petition to honor Woods and Doherty states: “Without regard for their personal safety, Woods and Doherty knowingly placed themselves in grave danger in order to bring aid to those under attack.”

Lee has posted a link to the petition on, urging members of Congress to grant them the medal. Newsmax caught up with her right after she met with Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.

Hunter has introduced HR 1186, a bill to posthumously grant the medals to the two warriors in recognition of their extraordinary courage in the face of enemy fire. So far, over 40 members of both parties have announced their bipartisan support for bestowing the medals.

Ordinarily, the Congressional Gold Medal is granted many years after an extraordinary achievement. But Lee says Woods and Doherty should be recognized as soon as possible for their sacrifice.

Woods actually served as one of her son’s Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) instructors, a fact she only recently learned.

“There’s a very personal connection,” she says. “I didn’t know that before Ty died, but he spoke of Marc quite often, of the sacrifice that he made and the warrior that he was.

“So I feel like this is an honor to be able to do this for these two guys, and to let them know we don’t lightly take what they did that day, that we recognize the amazing sacrifice they made, and that we want to remember them and honor them with this Congressional Gold Medal.”

A parallel bill to grant the medals to the two Seals is expected to soon be introduced in the U.S. Senate. But Lee knows she could face an uphill battle, but says her campaign “stands a good chance” thanks to its bipartisan support.

Previous recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include: Gen. George Washington, Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, Thomas Edison, Howard Hughes, Irving Berlin, Jesse Owens, Sir Winston Churchill, the crew of Apollo 11, Rev. Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa, and Dr. Martin Luther King.

By committee rules, legislation to bestow the medals won’t even be considered until at least two-thirds of the members of both the House and the Senate agree to co-sponsor the bill.

“I’m hoping that this will be successful,” says Lee. “I’m not giving up until it is.”
Lee tells Newsmax it is now her life’s work to speak up on behalf of those who no longer can.

“It is an honor to be able to be that voice,” Lee says. “Glenn and Ty don’t have that voice any longer. They gave that up with their final, last breath.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Birmingham Church Bombing Recalled With Donation, Medal

Birmingham Church Bombing
A man falls to his knees in prayer amid shattered glass from windows of 16th Street Baptist Church and surrounding buildings in Birmingham, Ala. Four young girls died as a racist’s bomb exploded at 10:22 a.m. on Sept. 15, 1963, during worship services and Sunday school sessions. In the following outbreak of violence throughout the area, two young black men were shot to death. Pleas for efforts to stop further bloodshed were issued from the government and civil rights and religious leaders across the nation. (RNS)

They were among the youngest martyrs of the civil rights movement, four young black girls—three 14-year-olds and one 11-year-old—whose deaths in a church basement horrified a nation already torn apart by segregation.

This week, 50 years after the Ku Klux Klan bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., shook hopes for a colorblind country, the four girls are getting their due.

Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair were posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on Tuesday, a day after a piece of shattered stained glass from the church was donated to the Smithsonian.

“This was just a little over two weeks after the March on Washington, which had generated so much optimism for progress of civil rights,” recalled Randall Jimerson, who was 14 when his white minister father scooped up the shards of glass from outside the bombed Birmingham church on Sept. 15, 1963.

“And, now for this event to take place, it just was shattering for us to hear about.”

Jimerson and his siblings made the donation to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is scheduled to open in 2015. The museum’s deputy director, Kinshasha Holman Conwill, said the donation fits the museum’s mission of reconciliation and healing.

“This is an extraordinary object in and of itself, commemorating one of the most searing and profoundly shocking moments in our country’s history,” she said.

On Tuesday, U.S. House Speaker John A. Boehner led the congressional ceremony at which the medal was bestowed. Some 300 people, including family members of the bombing victims, attended the ceremony. The medal will be kept at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute across the street from the Baptist church.

“These perpetrators of really what was the worst day in the history of Birmingham … they meant evil,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus, an Alabama Republican. “They were filled with hate. But God took those actions and took that tragedy and turned it into something still tragic, still heartbreaking but resulting in a civil rights movement and a movement for good, for peace, for love.”

President Obama’s speech at last year’s groundbreaking for the museum prompted Jimerson, director of archives and records management at Western Washington University in Bellingham,  to make the donation of the broken stained glass.

For most of the past five decades, the family kept the rosette—with bluish-green and cream tonesand its twisted pieces of lead in the family’s dining room hutch as they moved from state to state.

He said his jaw dropped when Obama specifically cited “the shards of glass” from the Birmingham church as objects his daughters should see in the forthcoming museum.

“That’s us,” he thought. “That’s what we have.”

His father, the Rev. Norman Jimerson, an American Baptist minister who became executive director of the Alabama Council on Human Relations, died in 1995. On the day of the bombing, he and his wife visited the church when they could find no other white ministers to join them.

“She would show this glass and say the twisted glass here is the symbol of twisted minds that would hate people so much to cause such a tragedy,” said Jimerson, recalling the activism of his mother, Melva Brooks Jimerson.

His sister, Ann Jimerson, who has created a website about children who lived in Birmingham in 1963, said the memento’s move to the museum will honor the four girls who died as well as two black boys who were killed in the aftermath of the bombings.

“It was a hard decision for our family to let go of the glass,’’ she said, shortly before she blew a kiss to it as Smithsonian officials packed it up for safe keeping. “I have at least one good friend who kept saying to me, ‘That glass does not belong to you and the Jimerson family it belongs to the nation.’ … It will have a much broader audience here.”



Rosa Parks statue set to be unveiled at Capitol.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rosa Parks is famous for her 1955 refusal to give up her seat on a city bus in Alabama to a white man, but there’s plenty about the rest of her experiences that she deliberately withheld from her family.

While Parks and her husband, Raymond, were childless, her brother, the late Sylvester McCauley, had 13 children. They decided Parks’ nieces and nephews didn’t need to know the horrible details surrounding her civil rights activism, said Rhea McCauley, Parks’ niece.

“They didn’t talk about the lynchings and the Jim Crow laws,” said McCauley, 61, of Orlando, Fla. “They didn’t talk about that stuff to us kids. Everyone wanted to forget about it and sweep it under the rug.”

Parks’ descendants now have a chance to be first-hand witnesses as their late matriarch makes more history, this time becoming the first black woman to be honored with a full-length statue in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. The statue of Parks joins a bust of another black woman, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, which sits in the Capitol Visitors Center.

President Barack Obama, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner are among the dignitaries taking part in the unveiling Wednesday. McCauley said more than 50 of Parks’ relatives traveled to Washington for the ceremony.

In a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus in segregated Montgomery, Ala. She was arrested, touching off a bus boycott that stretched over a year.

Jeanne Theoharis, author of the new biography “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” said Parks was very much a full-fledged civil rights activist, yet her contributions have not been treated like those of other movement leaders, such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Rosa Parks is typically honored as a woman of courage, but that honor focuses on the one act she made on the bus on Dec. 5, 1955,” said Theoharis, a political science professor at Brooklyn College-City University of New York.

“That courage, that night was the product of decades of political work before that and continued … decades after” in Detroit, she said.

Parks died Oct. 24, 2005, at age 92. The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp in her honor on Feb. 4, which would have been her 100th birthday.

Parks was raised by her mother and grandparents who taught her that part of being respected was to demand respect, said Theoharis, who spent six years researching and writing the Parks biography.

She was an educated woman who recalled seeing her grandfather sitting on the porch steps with a gun during the height of white violence against blacks in post-World War I Alabama.

After she married Raymond Parks, she joined him in his work in trying to help nine young black men, ages 12 to 19, who were accused of raping two white women in 1931. The nine were later convicted by an all-white jury in Scottsboro, Ala., part of a long legal odyssey for the so-called Scottsboro Boys.

In the 1940s, Parks joined the NAACP and was elected secretary of its Montgomery, Ala., branch, working with civil rights activist Edgar Nixon to fight barriers to voting for blacks and investigate sexual violence against women, Theoharis said.

Just five months before refusing to give up her seat, Parks attended Highlander Folk School, which trained community organizers on issues of poverty but had begun turning its attention to civil rights.

After the bus boycott, Parks and her husband lost their jobs and were threatened. They left for Detroit, where Parks was an activist against the war in Vietnam and worked on poverty, housing and racial justice issues, Theoharis said.

Theoharis said that while she considers the 9-foot-statue of Parks in the Capitol an “incredible honor” for Parks, “I worry about putting this history in the past when the actual Rosa Parks was working on and calling on us to continue to work on racial injustice.”

Parks has been honored previously in Washington with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999, both during the Clinton administration.

But McCauley said the Statuary Hall honor is different.

“The medal you could take it, put it on a mantel,” McCauley said. “But her being in the hall itself is permanent and children will be able to tour the (Capitol) and look up and see my aunt’s face.”


By SUZANNE GAMBOA | Associated Press

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