NEW YORK — For his ministry of selfless dedication and compassion, especially before his death helping others on Sept. 11, New York Congressional leaders have recommended that Mychal Judge, OFM, receive the Congressional Medal of Honor
A bill nominating Mychal, chaplain to the Fire Department of New York at the time of the attacks, was introduced in Congress in July and announced at Ground Zero on Sept. 8 by Rep. Anthony Weiner, (D-N.Y.), several days before Sept. 11. Hugh Hines, OFM, a friend and former Siena College colleague of Mychal, attended the news conference.
The bill provides for “the award of a gold medal on behalf of Congress posthumously to Father Mychal Judge, OFM, beloved chaplain of the Fire Department of New York who passed away as the first recorded victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, in recognition of his example to the nation of selfless dedication to duty and compassion for one’s fellow citizens.”
A Courageous Death
Mychal died “after courageously rushing to the World Trade Center to support, console and administer last rites to the victims of the attacks,” according to the bill. “Known for his tremendous capacity for compassion, Judge was beloved by the firefighters and the city he served.”
At a Sept. 8 morning news conference in lower Manhattan, more than half-a-dozen legislators and organizational leaders spoke of their admiration of Mychal.
“Fr. Mike knew people in all circles. I consider it a privilege to have known him,” said Congressman Joseph Crowley, who mentioned that Mychal had attended his wedding. “He was very special. Fr. Mychal was always giving to the least among us.”
Mychal McNicholas, a friend of Mychal, said the beloved friar “kept people together.”
“To know Mychal Judge was to love him,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.). “He ministered to the sick, the poor and the forgotten.”
“This is a bipartisan effort,” said Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.). “I think it is the spirit of Fr. Judge that brought you and me together on this platform today,” he told Weiner, joking about their political differences.
“A Mychal Moment”
In his column in the New York Daily News on Sept. 9, columnist Michael Daly, author of The Book of Mychal, wrote: “Anybody who doubts that fire chaplain Mychal Judge’s work continues long after his death on 9/11 should have seen Rep. Anthony Weiner and Rep. Peter King standing together yesterday in what was once the shadow of the World Trade Center. Mychal was at work yesterday as Weiner and King stood together by Ground Zero. The platform was within sight of where his lifeless body was carried, but there was not a trace of grimness, for this was a true Mychal moment. And that can only bring a smile.”
In closing the news conference, Weiner thanked Mychal’s sister and all who participated. “Fr. Mychal was always trying to find the things we have in common. We should grant him a Congressional Medal of Honor.”
The bill, which is dated July 30, 2010, needs 210 votes to be ratified. As of last week, it had 30. Supporters are looking for sponsors of the bill.
Hugh, who has been known to say this about Mychal: “He is still with us,” is shown in the photo above with Dympna Jessich, Mychal’s twin, and Daly.
In the rear photo, Hugh is surrounded by Maloney, Weiner, Jessich, Crowley and King.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.