Shelby: Decades after going above and beyond the call of duty, two dozen military veterans are finally being honored for their bravery. Scott is here with more.
Scott: Yeah, Shelby. Yesterday, the White House held a special ceremony to give these veterans the top military award: the Medal of Honor.
President Obama: Some of these soldiers fought and died for a country that did not always see them as equal.
Scott: President Barack Obama is moving to right old wrongs, awarding the Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans who served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The honors are being awarded after Congress ordered a review of military records to determine whether service members of Jewish or Hispanic heritage or others had been wrongly denied the Medal of Honor due to prejudice. They had all previously been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest military award, but their actions were deserving of something even greater. And in some cases, even 70 years after their heroism.
Obama: And today we have the chance to set the record straight.
Scott: Sergeant Jesus Duran is among the Vietnam vets being honored. His son, Chuy, will never forget how he got the news he had been invited to accept on his father’s behalf.
Chuy: And then President Obama gets on the phone call and said because of the heroism my father displayed if I would be willing to come to Washington, DC to accept the Medal of Honor in his honor.
Scott: Sergeant Duran’s platoon was ambushed in Vietnam in 1969. While others took cover, the machine-gunner started firing, saving several that were injured. As a Mexican soldier, he was no stranger to prejudice.
Alma Brigandi: He was born in Mexico, came here, and we had to deal…you know, we all had to deal with discrimination.
Scott: His wife says she only has one wish for this very special day.
Alma: I wish Jesus was still alive to be receiving it himself.
Scott: There are only three recipients still living. Former Army Specialist Santiago Erevia is one of them. In a place called Tam Ky, Vietnam, he singlehandedly took out four enemy bunkers that were raking his position with fire. Jose Rodela, a master sergeant in the Green Berets, is another of the living recipients, also for his actions in Vietnam. The third is a former Green Beret, Melvin Morris, who was wounded three times recovering the body of a fellow soldier in the face of machine gun fire. Morris, as an African-American, didn’t technically qualify because the review was only supposed to cover Hispanic and Jewish soldiers, but his actions spoke louder than his race or religion. The review also awarded six white soldiers, including one Jewish-American, Private Leonard Kravitz who fought in Korea. And yesterday, their true heroism was finally recognized.
Obama: On behalf of a grateful nation, we all want to thank you for inspiring us then and now with your strength, your will and your heroic hearts. Please give them a big round of applause.
Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.
Roughly 3,400 people have received the Medal of Honor since it was created in 1861.
Shelby: And for ways that you can support active military members and veterans, head over to ChannelOne.com.