But who... if anyone... is doing anything about it?
For the past several blogs I have been bringing you many stories about how racism has touched on the military and more specifically some of the recipients of the Commonwealth's Victoria Cross and the US's Medal of Honor. Even more to the point, a few of those who became victims who did not get the medals deserved.
In addition to these matters, since this blog's very beginning over 6 years ago I have often mentioned the horrible Purge of 1916-17 that resulted in over 900 Medals of Honor being removed from American's lists of MOH recipients. Worse yet almost completely removed, illegally I will yet again state, from the history books of the country, its medal and its people. In addition, the purge was in many a conversation I have had over the dozen plus years pre this blog's birth.
The story of Medal of Honor recipient Robert Storr, beginning a few blogs back, falls into two categories... racism and the purge. To tell these, I must go back some 157 years to the very creation of the army and navy versions of the medal.
Had it not been for stubborn leadership, the army would have had the honor of being the first to have a medal created for their service members. But alas, that honor fell to the navy.
Please forgive the cut and past from an earlier blog... but below refers to back in 1862...
During the Civil War years it is possible that some of the medals were awarded by special acts for individuals who took their cases directly to the senate... and they in turn to Congress. But for the most part medals were awarded under the signature of the President after going though several steps starting at the unit level and on up through the chain of command all the way to DC. But for most awards, in that war, they were covered by the above 2 acts. With minor alterations up until the late 1800's
One change very quickly appeared changing the temporary status of an award during the Rebellion, to a permanent medal for all time in the military. Another soon extended the authority for medals to be awarded to army officers during the war, a right not extended till many, many years later for the naval medal.
At the right is a badge of membership from the late 1800's and early 1900's widely popular Grand Army of the Republic. Note the incredible similarity. One easily thought from a distance to be a MOH, whilst of course it is just a club membership badge.
Then comes story of the 27th Maine Infantry, extension of services in the time of need, even be it only for a few days, the promise of Medals of Honor for complying and the eventual circulation of over 900 medals. It would become what is now the biggest scandal associated with the MOH, though few appear to care less about it today.
Into that quagmire fell Robert Storr, even though never a member of the 27th.
The Maine regiment's story has oft appeared here. The gist of the matter is that about 300 were entitled to medals as promised by Lincoln, and fully within his powers to do. But bureaucratic bumbling resulted in about 900 medals for the 27th. Just over 300 would have been just fine!
Over the years advancing to 1900 many folks were complaining about the massive amount of Medals of Honor floating about. Some 900 with the 27th Maine, others who's conduct was far short of heroism and the confusion by many that the fellow down the street walking their way looked like a MOH man when simply a GAR member.
Several calls for federal action to deal with this came together with the governments creation of a pension for medaled men. So they decided that a Roll of Honor should be made, and only hose listed therein, would be entitled to the pension.
But who should be added to that list???
Again with the use of cutting and pasting from an earlier blog...
The law as written in the 1860's and noted above could have been written more clearly. It however made it very clear that bravery in the face of the enemy was not a requirement in every case. Thus the 27th Maine medals, while they should have been limited to about 300... were legal. So too for the Storr medal.
So, getting back to the pension list...
If you look at the above document it introduces a caveat, (NOT in the materials, as evidenced by the very board formed via the above document,) that only those who were awarded for actions in the face of the enemy would be honored further by receiving a pension.
This was not part of the discussions by the congress. It was an add on by bureaucrats without any authority what soever to make the change.
Those from the 27th, at least the 300, were awarded for volunteering to stay on duty after their original terms of service had expired. That extra service, though only a few days long, was NOT in the face of the enemy, nor was it so required, to be eligible to be added to the new Honor Roll. as outlined by congress. But because of underlings, they were refused such entry on such rolls.
Nor did Congress require the return of medals earned whilst not in the face of the enemy. But the bureaucrats claimed this power... using the PFA factor... plucked from air... I guess... and again forcing the purge generals to do what they were told.. not what they thought was right.
The actions were in violation of the US constitution in a number of sections re depriving of possessions, the rule of law and the right to be heard etc, and being disallowed pensions they were entitled to.
Still more to come on this, but length dictates leaving it till next Sunday, July 7th.
Happy 1st and 4th to those north and south of the 49th.