New bill would honor minority WWI veterans

CAMBRIDGE, Md. –  In Cambridge, Thursday war veterans, historians and others joined Maryland U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen to honor minority war heroes who didn’t get the recognition they deserved based solely off of the color of their skin.

Before 1990 minority veterans were denied medals of honor. That means that soldiers who fought for our country and our freedoms didn’t get the respect and recognition they deserved.

“The nation in which it forgets it’s defenders will itself be forgotten.”

The World War I Valor Medals Review Act would ensure that doesn’t happen. It’s a bill that Maryland U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen hopes will correct an injustice.

Sen. Van Hollen says, “This bill directs the Department of Defense to go back and review the war records of some World War I veterans who, we know, were engaged in incredible bravery and heroic acts but we’re overlooked when it came to the Medal of Honor.”

Minority veterans who fought for our freedoms and sacrificed but were never given the honor they deserved.

“One of those people is William Butler, Sgt. Butler during World War I who is recognized in many ways for his heroism, but never received the Medal of Honor even though he was recommended.”

“The rest of the state of Maryland and the whole United States now has it’s hat off to Butler of Salisbury.” A quote from a newspaper back from the 1900’s.

Now a century later, the hope is that once again America can thank Butler and others for their bravery and courage to right a wrong.

“I’m glad the minorities are finally getting the recognition that they duly deserve from those wars it was just due to the times. Times have changed and I’m glad it’s been corrected nowadays,” explains Ernest Hawkins, Commander of the American Legion Post 29.

The legislation would require that the Department of Defense review the service records of all minority war veterans.

That would include veterans who were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross or Navy Cross, or who received a recommendation for the Medal of Honor for an action that occurred between April 6, 1917 – and November 11, 1918.

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