Pat Summitt may be on the way to receiving the Congressional Gold Medal, but
Many are recommended for
Still, it's been awarded to a heart surgeon, a comedian, a pope, a queen and members of the 1980 Summer Olympics team who couldn't compete for the other kind of gold because the U.S. boycotted the Moscow games.
Congressional leaders last week posthumously awarded the medal to the Rev.
Supporters must line up two-thirds of the 435-member House and 67 of the 100 senators as co-sponsors for a measure to be considered. The push to honor women's basketball coach Pat Summitt has 113 sponsors in the House and two sponsors in the Senate; so far the movement for Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel into space, has 81 sponsors in the House, but no Senate bill.
Who gets a medal often depends on who gets behind the effort and how persistent they are in pushing for the recognition. Elizabeth Taylor's appearance before a congressional committee on behalf of John Wayne in the late '70s helped the Duke get it.
The first recipients of the medal — established years before the Medal of Honor — were military heroes.
Congressional gold medals have been awarded for long-forgotten events; Congress in 1941 authorized a medal for 11-year-old Roland Boucher for rescuing five playmates who had fallen through the ice of Lake Champlain while skating.
Lately, an effort has been underway to pay tribute to World War II veterans before it's too late.
Legislation has been introduced to award gold medals to Filipino World War II veterans and members of the Office of Strategic Services.
Gold medals, generally three inches in diameter, are designed and struck by the U.S. Mint at a cost of about $30,000. The legislation usually provides for the production and sale of duplicate bronze medals.
Here is a look at some of the individuals and groups proposed for gold medals:
• Pat Summitt "in recognition of her remarkable career as an unparalleled figure in women's team sports, and for her courage in speaking out openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer's."
"The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded to America's most distinguished citizens, and there is perhaps no one in America who has made a more indelible mark on their profession and in their community than Pat Summitt,'' Sen.
• Freedom Riders "in recognition of their unique contribution to civil rights, which inspired a revolutionary movement for equality in interstate travel."
The Freedom Rides, which lasted from May to November 1961, included more than 400 black and white Americans who risked their lives to challenge Jim Crow laws — particularly in public transportation — in the South, said one of the bill's chief sponsors, Rep.
• Lena Horne, in recognition of her contributions to American culture and the civil rights movement.
• Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, former Navy SEALs working as security contractors who were killed in the attack near a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
"As the coordinated attack in Benghazi unfolded, Glen and Tyrone exposed themselves to enemy fire as they engaged attackers that were armed with guns, mortars and rocket propelled grenades," said California Rep.
• Constance Baker Motley, the first black woman on the federal bench and a lawyer who helped steer many of the civil rights movement's pivotal legal battles — including the landmark 1954 school desegregation case Brown vs. Board of Education and James Meredith's fight to enroll at the University of Mississippi in 1962.
"As a lawyer, she fought tirelessly for the cause of civil rights, becoming the first African American woman to argue before the Supreme Court," said Rep.
• Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel into space.
"Despite being most famous for her time as a
• Dr. R. Adams Cowley, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the advancement of trauma care.