A previous blog alerted you to the event to take place on the 18th, and yesterday families and dignitaries and a few current Medal of Honor heroes attended the historic occasion. US President Barrack Obama's comments quickly turned to the wrongs of the past and noted that..." No nation is perfect, but here in America, we confront our imperfections." He added that..." Some of these fellows fought and died for a country that did not always see them as equals."
Indeed they did not!
About a dozen years ago the US Congress ordered a review of over 6,500 cases where a soldier was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross. Awards covered WW11, Korean and Vietnam service and concentrated on the Army, and those veterans that were either Hispanic or Jewish. The review was later extended to Black Americans.
And the review did not come easily. A fellow named Mitchell Libman can take the credit for starting this. Some 50 years ago he wondered why his buddy only got a Distinguished Service Cross, one down from the MOH when feelings amongst many was that he ought to have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest of all military awards. He began a 50 year fight to see justice being done. The President himself congratulated Libman on what he actually accomplished with this decades long battle to set things right.
Twenty four men were found in the review to have been awarded the lower medal when indeed they were deserving of the MOH. Eight from Vietnam, nine from Korea and seven from WW11. One of these is still listed as missing, ten others never came home. Yesterday only three of the 24 were still alive and were presented their medals in person by Obama in Washington. All but the three received their awards posthumously, and yesterday's medals presented to relatives at the White House.
Their very stern looks might be saying lots about the 50 years of discrimination they, the remaining 21 and possible thousands of other experienced during those horrible war years, and perhaps since.
Well, last week a sharp eyed reader dropped me a note to say what a nice story it was but that I had made a glaring error. Turns out he was not only right but I goofed on two points. His comments now appear on that page and the blog can be reread at... http://www.canadianmedalofhonor.com/1/post/2013/07/ten-men-do-the-job-of-40000-thats-4000-per-man-and-every-last-one-of-them-got-rewarded-for-their-heroism.html
The story about the regiment happened in 1917 but I had stated that it was during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. While the unit definitely fought most heroically there, and was almost whipped out, the story in the blog was in fact about another battle the next year.
I ended the blog by also mixing up the Colonel's dates of birth and death. His correct date of death was 5 August 1955 and his birthday was 7 July 1884.
I thank that reader for holding my feet to the fire and am sorry for these errors.
Back in 1863, that was the day when six of the survivors from the Andrews Raiders were in Washington DC and met with the Secretary of War and presented with the first ever Medals of Honor. They were later taken down the road to the offices of the White House and met President Abraham Lincoln. These medals of course were the first presented but not the first earned. Later that year and for years to come others would be awarded the medal for actions that actually dated before the events involved in the Andrews Raid.
Mark has sent me many tidbits on Hayes and has recently actually visited the grave in Iowa. He has also taken a Medal of Honor flag to the cemetery and posted it at the grave sight and noted that in a few months there will be a commemoration ceremony at this grave. Stay tuned for more on that, but in the mean time here are three of several photos he has sent along regarding this Canadian hero of Civil War days.
Mark poses at the grave, with the US flag flying and the Grand Army of the Republic marker on display. Also shown is the relatively new government created Medal of Honor flag that all recipients are entitled to. Now if we can just get a Canadian flag in the next shot. hehe
Back on Friday with the last on Victoria Cross recipient George.