News / USA

Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Minority Veterans

Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Minority Veteransi
X
March 19, 2014 4:03 AM
President Barack Obama has recognized 24 ethnic or minority veterans with the Medal of Honor for combat bravery after years of being bypassed due to prejudice.VOA's Amanda Scott has more.

Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Minority Veterans

Amanda Scott
President Barack Obama has recognized 24 ethnic or minority veterans with the Medal of Honor for combat bravery after years of being bypassed due to prejudice. The service of the Hispanic, Jewish and African-American soldiers spanned three wars - from the World War II to Korea and Vietnam.
 
Of the honorees, only three were alive to receive their medals. Vietnam veterans Jose Rodela, Melvin Morris and Santiago Erevia attended the ceremony and were commended for bravery on the battlefield.
 
"It's unimaginable the valor that they displayed. Running into bullets, charging machine gun nests, and climbing aboard tanks and taking them out. Covering their comrades so they could make it to safety. Holding back enemies, wave after wave, even when the combat was hand-to-hand. Manning their post, some to their very last breaths, so that their comrades might live," said Obama.
 
The veterans were honored after a congressionally mandated review of thousands of war records of ethnic or minority service personnel in 2002 in an effort, as Obama said, "to make sure the heroism of veterans did not go overlooked due to discrimination." 
 
"No nation is perfect. But here in America we confront our imperfections and face the sometimes painful past, including the truth that some of these soldiers fought and died for a country that did not always see them as equal," said Obama.
 
Many of the recipients had received the Distinguished Service Cross, but because of prejudice had not been offered the Medal of Honor. Pam Elbe, an archivist with the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, said one of the posthumous recipients, Leonard Kravitz, a Korean War veteran credited with saving his comrades during battle, was long deserving of the medal.
 
"I think at least in the Jewish community there’s always been a feeling that some people were maybe overlooked because they were Jewish - Leonard Kravitz being a good example.  People have always felt that what he did deserved the Medal of Honor - not just the Distinguished Service Cross," said Elbe.
 
Elbe said that although discrimination was not an official part of U.S. military practice, many soldiers were overlooked for either religious or racial reasons.
 
"Unfortunately in the military, if your commander is an anti-Semite or prejudiced in some other way, you might be overlooked for something or given jobs you don’t want to do - so it’s just a general microcosm of society," said Elbe.
 
This was the single largest group of service members to be awarded the Medal of Honor since World War II.  The medal has been awarded to more than 3,000 U.S. soldiers since 1863.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mike Doyle from: Salford England
March 19, 2014 7:45 AM
As President Obama says: No nation is perfect and unlike many others America confronts its past mistakes and tries to make amends. By awarding the Medal of Honour to these very deserving soldiers it has righted a great wrong that due to ignorance and prejudice was committed against them.

In Response

by: uscitizen444 from: USA
March 19, 2014 12:54 PM
All American Veterans are hero's and deserve medal of honor. All are overlooked not just minority. Prejudice? Come on man get your act together. Support all your military, don't cut funding of U.S. military. Build and maintain strenghth to protect and serve. The efforts of your great people (HERO's) is why you can stand with your head up high. The military people since the beginning have been taken for granted. It is every service man and womens duty to be a hero and they are no matter how little or small or ethnicity. They do what they must because you say so. Be wise with your decisions and remove troops from harms way when possible. These people (veterans) all cover your _ _ _. Are we not all American's brother. Many people of other countries aspire to peace and freedom that we enjoy also. USA is a melting pot. All are minorities and all are American's. Great are the needs of all individual's everywhere, worldwide. God bless you for trying to do the right things. Peace
P.S.
Please, do not drink. Keep your mind clear.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid