Plans have been forced to change and thus my Wed blog will back on schedule for Wednesday... not Tuesday. Sorry for the unavoidable changes, but apparently life happens.
Over the past several months I have had numerous problems with some sicko's who get joy out of transmitting viruses into my computer. I can only pray that some day they will get their just rewards for the problems they create.
That being said, here is an attempt to do yesterday's blog, even though the computer is still acting up.
Back in 2002 the US Congress ordered the Pentagon to do a massive review of awards made to the military in any of the years between December of 1941 and September of 2001. Evidence suggested that there were far too many cases that seemed to support the contention that discrimination based on racial or ethnic backgrounds played a major role in the awarding of the top medal... the Medal of Honor... to those of Hispanic, Black American and Jewish decent.
And sure enough the massive job proved that there indeed was discrimination that ran so ramped that in the army alone some 600 cases were discovered that needed reassessment. Add to that over 275 from the other services. And to this, factor in that only those cases were a 2nd highest medal was awarded, was there a second look, such that produced these astounding figures. Even more upsetting is evidence discovered that some serving members hid their true names and enlisted under phoney ones in an attempt to avoid the discrimination they still encountered.
Last week the news was released that the twelve year study had been completed. From this 24 cases have been discovered were the service man should have been awarded a Medal of Honor and was unjustly disqualified and then awarded a lower medal. Of these 24 all but six were Hispanic, or Jewish. One was a Black American, and all fought in either WW11, Korea or Vietnam. Of the 24 that will be honoured this month. ONLY THREE ARE STILL ALIVE.
The White House ceremony is scheduled for March 18 and will be the largest awarding of Medals of Honor in one ceremony since WW11 days.
Some say justice is finally being done! But when 24 heroes were denied the acknowledgement that they had earned the highest medal in the country for their heroism for more than two decades, a very late correction is hardly the justice they, their families, their communities and their country deserved.
Last month was Black History Month in Canada and the US, and so the timing of the announcement was good for at least one of these heroes. No doubt also to all the others of diverse backgrounds, who's cases have now been identified as needing further review.
Lets hope they get it!
Speaking of reviews, perhaps the British could learn something about this case. And after the lesson is learned they can hopefully review the case of Robert Burt Gilbert, a black WW1 soldier from Victoria BC who bayoneted one of the enemy at Vimy and braved going into a tunnel known to be an enemy holding area for Germans, when his own officers refused to enter for fear of their lives. He exited and brought along an enemy machine gun. He also brought along over 2 dozen POW's and an officer. That officer said Gilbert was so brave that he removed an Iron Cross from his chest and pinned it on the Canadian. A Canadian private that received no promotions or awards for his heroism. He of course was black!. Some in the same battle were said to have done less and later were awarded the Victoria Cross. But then they were white! A blog was written about this some time ago and can be reread by going to...
Back to Black History Month (BHM) which just ended yesterday... when this blog was expected to run, there are a few comments I'd like to make.
To begin with, we should all reflect of the very first black Victoria Cross recipient in the entire history of the award. That recipient was of course Nova Scotia born William Hall, who's run to constantly drag a heavy artillery gun into place against a very highly defended enemy wall, earned him a VC.
His memory was kept alive for years in highland tattoos yearly at Canada's East and West coast where teams competed against each other in re-enactments of running the gun to an obstacle, tearing it down, crossing the obstacle, rebuilding it and then firing off rounds and reversing the procedure back to the start point again.
A few years ago the competition was apparently halted as too many were getting hurt. If memory is right, Hall's battle was not halted for similar reasons! More can be read about Hall at... http://www.canadianmedalofhonor.com/1/post/2012/12/74-nova-scotia-blacks-served-on-58-civil-war-vessels.html and at... http://www.canadianmedalofhonor.com/1/post/2013/02/declared-deserter-fought-in-three-wars-for-2-countries-served-on-14-ships-and-awarded-victoria-cross.html
We should also give some thought to the heroism, during BHM, of Robert Sweeney one of 19 apparent double recipients of the Medal of Honor. Current history claims that there were 19 recipients, but like most history, can often be challenged. There were clearly more than 19 doubles as noted in this space in the past.
That being said, Sweeney also has been claimed for years as being born at Montreal but it reality he was born in the West Indies. Regardless, his heroism can not be challenged and more can be read about him in a past blog at...
During the same month of celebrating, we must not forget the story of Nova Scotia born Joseph Noil who's bravery in the navy saved a fellow sailor's life and resulted in his being awarded the Medal of Honor. He would be Canada's only born black recipient known to date. But history continues on a regular basis to overturn what we think we know today.
Joseph's story has been covered in this space at... http://www.canadianmedalofhonor.com/1/post/2013/12/medal-of-honor-recipient-buried-under-wrong-name-for-almost-130-years-age-and-length-of-service-also-pose-questions.html and he has had honourable mention numerous times since his grave was recently discovered with a few miles of Washington DC. I visited his grave a few months back and am assured that the updating of his marker is well in the works.
Still with February, we should wrap the month up with some thoughts about the heroism of Admiral Byrd, who received a Medal of Honor for his explorations in Canada's North with a General Order dated on 25 Feb 1927. On the same day but in the year 1917, Recipient Pte George L Houghton died. On the 27th, but in the year 1870 recipient Sergeant Albert O'Connor's General Order was issued approving his MOH. And yesterday..the 28th back in 1899 recipient Private Thomas Gay passed away back in 1899.
More can be read about the daring adventures of Admiral Byrd at... http://www.canadianmedalofhonor.com/1/post/2013/02/on-top-of-the-world.html
More can be read about the 38 year wait for the Houghton MOH at... http://www.canadianmedalofhonor.com/1/post/2013/02/waited-thirty-eight-years-to-get-his-medal-of-honor.html
If you think that wait was too long, you can read about O'Connor's 56 year wait at... . http://www.canadianmedalofhonor.com/1/post/2013/02/another-quebecer-gets-medal-of-honor-after-56-year-wait.html
And while reflecting on the 24 medals to be awarded later this month, revisit Thomas Gay's adventures and how he and 33 others all got their medals on the same day, at... http://www.canadianmedalofhonor.com/apps/search?q=Gay One of these others was also another Canadian.
Hope all this reading keeps you going till we again meet next Tuesday.
Note I said Tuesday, as Wednesday I expect to be away from my computer.