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World War II, Korea and Vietnam soldiers to receive belated Medal of Honor

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Twenty-four soldiers who bravely fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam are to be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama next month, according to ABC News on March 11. The soldiers, who previously had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, had been overlooked for the Medal of Honor because of their ethnic and religious backgrounds. The Medal of Honor is the highest medal that can be awarded to a soldier in the four branches of military service, including the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force.

President Obama stated that the Medal of Honor should have been awarded to these soldiers forty-four years ago:

“I apologize for the oversight. This should have happened 44 years ago. I was overwhelmed.”

The Distinguished Service Cross, which is the second highest award that can be awarded a soldier, was an honor for the soldiers. However, Mitchell Libman, who advocated for Leonard Kravitz for over 50 years, felt that Kravitz and the other soldiers deserved to have their awards upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Libman never gave up and now the twenty-four soldiers are to awarded the Medal of Honor next month. Three of the soldiers will be awarded the Medal of Honor in person, while the other twenty-one soldiers are to receive their awards posthumously.

The soldiers fought in the following wars respectively: seven in World War II, eight in the Korean War, and nine in the Vietnam War. Libman was able to start the process that ultimately resulted in the awarding of the Medal of Honor to the twenty-four soldiers when he contacted Florida Congressman Bob Wexler. Wexler was able to get legislation passed in 2001 that ordered a review of the cases of Jewish and Hispanic soldiers. The review finally ended with the planned awarding of the Medal of Honor to the soldiers at the White House next month.