CALLS ON PRESIDENT BUSH TO AWARD US MEDAL OF FREEDOM TO FALLEN
NY FIRE DEPT. CHAPLAIN FRIAR MYCHAL JUDGE
Senator Also Announces New, Bipartisan Bill To Provide Federal
Funding To Hire 75,000 New Firefighters Nationwide ,
in Front of Engine Co.1, Schumer Joined by Over 100 New York City
Firefighters, as well as the Twin Sister of Father Judge, and
Father Keenan, the Successor to Father Judge
in front of the Engine Co. 1 where New York City Fire Department
Chaplain, Franciscan Friar Mychal Judge dined every evening, and
joined by Dympna Jessich, the twin sister of Father Judge, Father
Christopher Keenan, the successor to Father Judge, and over 100
New York City firefighters, US Senator Chuck Schumer called on
President Bush to award the US Medal of Freedom to Father Judge,
the beloved Chaplain who was killed by falling debris from the
World Trade Center while giving last rites to injured and fallen
firefighters. Father Judge's funeral was attended by over 2,000
mourners on September 15, 2001, with more lining the streets outside
the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, which is located across the
street from Engine Co. 1. Schumer was joined in his request by
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
also announced new, bipartisan legislation to provide federal
funding to hire 75,000 new firefighters nationwide. The bill -
known as The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response
(SAFER) Act of 2001 - was introduced by Senator Christopher Dodd
(D-CT) and provides $8 billion in grants over seven years to local
fire departments to hire new firefighters and provide additional
resources to help protect firefighters. Schumer is an original
co-sponsor of the bill.
it's honoring the memory of Father Judge with the US Medal of
Freedom or providing much needed federal funding to hire over
75,000 new firefighters across New York and across the nation,
our firefighters have always been there for us every step of the
way - and not just since September 11, and we need to be there
for them," Schumer said. "It's one thing to express
our appreciation for our firefighters in words. It's another in
deeds, and that's what we're hoping to accomplish with this legislation,
and with this request to the President."
1992, Father Judge served as the Catholic Chaplain of the New
York City Fire Department, ministering to firefighters and victims
in need of spiritual guidance. Best known for his service to AIDS
victims, Father Judge built his career around tending to the sick,
homeless and disabled. When TWA Flight 800 went down over Long
Island, Father Judge helped console the emergency workers as well
as the families of the victims.
Judge was born in Brooklyn and joined the Franciscan Friars in
1955. He was an assistant to the president of Siena College in
Loudonville, NY before becoming pastor of St. Joseph's Church
in West Milford, NH, in 1979. In 1986, he became a pastor at the
Church of St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street in Manhattan,
and six years later, he joined the New York City Fire Department.
their letter to President Bush requesting the US Medal of Freedom
for Father Judge, Schumer and Clinton wrote, "On that tragic
day in September, Father Judge died as he lived - serving others.
Among the first arriving units at the World Trade Center, Father
Judge was advised to move to a safer location, but he refused
to leave his compatriots. When the firefighters entered the building,
Father Judge was at their side, where he remained offering comfort
and absolution until the end. It is my hope that you will honor
Father Judge's service to New York City and to the country by
awarding him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom."
US Medal of Freedom was created by President Harry S. Truman as
the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 6, 1945 to reward civilians
for meritorious acts of service related to war. On February 22,
1963, President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order naming
the award the US Medal of Freedom and establishing the criteria,
which is simply making a great contribution towards: (1) the security
or national interests of the United States; (2) world peace; or
(3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Only Presidents, at their sole discretion, can award the US Medal
of Freedom. President Reagan awarded 85 Medals of Freedom - the
most of any President -- during his eight years in office, followed
by President Clinton with 83 during his eight years in office.
President George W. Bush has not awarded any in his administration
by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Schumer and Senator Majority
Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), among others, the SAFER bill creates
a seven year grant program run by the US Department of Labor that
pays up to 75% of the annual salary of new firefighters. Any local
government can apply for SAFER grants. Applicants must demonstrate
the need for federal assistance as well as their long term hiring
strategy. Applicants can apply in any year during the program's
existence, so even if a Fire Department doesn't need federal funding
for new employees this year or next year, the option remains to
participate in future years.
shouldn't take a tragedy like September 11 for people to realize
how much our safety and security depends on our firefighters,"
Schumer said. "The better staffed and the better equipped
our Fire Departments are, the safer we'll be, and the safer they'll
be. It's that simple."