President Obama will award the highest military commendation, the Medal of Honor, next month to 19 Jewish, Latino, and African-American Army veterans who were robbed of the designation due to racial discrimination.
The awards are the outcome of a 12-year review and reassessment of Medal of Honor recipients by the Pentagon as ordered by Congress to investigate historical racism among military ranks.
The list of those who’ll receive the distinguished honor includes 17 Latino soldiers and one African-American veteran, although according to The Washington Post, Congress’ order did not initially include a review of black soliders.
More from WaPo:
Defense Department officials said there was specific evidence to suggest such discrimination may have existed in the ranks, including instances when Hispanic and Jewish soldiers apparently changed their names to hide their ethnicity. The Congressional order spanned the period from December 1941 through September 2001.
The project was an enormous undertaking that sent military personnel officials searching for lost records and battlefield histories amid the complicated politics surrounding the military’s highest honor.
The review was further complicated by a 1973 fire that destroyed millions of military files at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.
Of the new Medal of Honor recipients, only three are still living.