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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid