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Renowned bravery award renamed to honor 9/11 hero
NEW YORK - The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) announced Tuesday, the renaming of The James Gordon Bennett Medal to a Peter J. Ganci, Jr. Award, CNN reports.
A September 11th hero who lost his life in the 2001 attack, Peter J. Ganci Jr. Award was a recently appointed Fire Chief who died at only 33 years of age. Ganci, known for numerous acts of courage throughout his career with the FDNY, was awarded a medal for rescuing a child from a fire.
In contrast, the medal's original namesake, James Gordon, was known for believing that the forced enslavement of African-Americans was acceptable. Gordon owned a newspaper, which he used to promote his opinions, which supported the oppression of Black people.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro explained the reason for striking Gordon's name from the medal and replacing it with Ganci's, saying, "The James Gordon Bennett Medal was endowed by its namesake to honor Firefighters who saved his home. However, Bennett also held deeply racist beliefs and used his newspaper to repeatedly express hateful views in full support of slavery. These views have no place in any society, and I believe we must cease including this individual's name, and therefore his legacy, in our annual celebration."
"This award for bravery should not be tied to someone who never served the FDNY, risked his life to save others, and who advocated for hate and slavery," Nigro continued. "That award should be named for the Chief who was leading our troops on our darkest day, a great man who gave his life overseeing the greatest rescue operation in FDNY history."
The medal was established in 1869 and is now awarded annually for the most outstanding act of heroism after the consideration and deliberate judgement of the members of the Board of Merit of the FDNY.
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