Senate Passes Padilla, Rubio Legislation to Award Congressional Gold Medal to Iran Hostage Crisis Victims

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Iran Hostages Congressional Gold Medal Act to honor the 52 Americans who endured 444 days held in captivity by militarized Iranian students in the late 1970s with a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award that Congress can bestow. This bipartisan legislation is led by U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The bill now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for final passage.

Padilla and Rubio introduced the Iran Hostages Congressional Gold Medal Act in 2021, which marked the 40th anniversary of the Americans’ release and their return home. Thirty of the original hostages are still alive, with some still suffering the lasting effects of the trauma from their captivity. The families of five former hostages reside in California.

“The bravery of these American heroes must be remembered forever,” Senator Padilla said. “Through 444 days of inhumane brutality, these patriots never broke. Their unwavering commitment to democracy deserves Congress’ highest civilian honor. Awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Americans held captive during the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis is a long overdue honor.”

“The 52 Americans, including three Floridians, who were held hostage for more than a year in Tehran suffered greatly at the hands of an evil regime,” said Senator Rubio. “Their experience is a bitter reminder of the true nature of the Iranian regime, which continues to take American citizens hostage to this day. I’m glad to see this bipartisan effort to pay homage to these men and women move forward. I hope our colleagues in the House of Representatives will quickly pass the bill.”

“We’re thrilled to be able to honor these heroes. It’s people like them who make this country great, and we need to make sure these kinds of heroes are honored,” said Brock Pierce, Chairman of Commission 52. “After 40 years of waiting, the 52 deserved to be remembered as the heroes they were and it’s an honor to be a part of it. The sacrifice they made is worth our utmost respect and everyone can agree on that.”

“It is past time that these fifty-two American heroes, whose resolve did not waver under the worst of conditions, be honored by their government,” said Ezra Friedlander founder of Commission 52, which is spearheading a grassroots effort to honor the former hostages. “Fortunately, with the Senate passage of the Iran Congressional Gold Medal legislation in the Senate, justice delayed will no longer mean justice denied for the patriots who went through hell to defend and uphold our American values of freedom and democracy.”

On November 4, 1979, 52 Americans were taken hostage from the U.S. Embassy in Iran by militant supporters of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in violation of international law. For the next 444 days, they were subjected to intense physical and psychological torture, including mock executions, beatings, solitary confinement, and inhospitable living conditions.

Despite abuses designed to break their spirits and faith in democracy, the hostages stood resolute and refused to denounce or sign fraudulent statements condemning the United States.

Text of the bill can be found here.


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