President Obama Awards Latino, Jewish, And African-American Veterans Overlooked Due To Prejudice

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Staff Sergeant Melvin Morris, Sergeant First Class Jose Rodela, and Specialist Four Santiago J. Erevia with President Obama

On Tuesday, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to 24 veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Many of these veterans were previously overlooked due to prejudice against their ethnicity or race, the majority of whom were Latino, Jewish or African-American. Only three remain alive and were present at the ceremony.

Two of the three courageous men present at the ceremony are from right here in Texas — Sergeant First Class Jose Rodela and Specialist Four Santiago J. Erevia. Both Rodela and Erevia are Vietnam veterans from San Antonio.

“This ceremony reminds us of one of the enduring qualities that makes America great, that makes us exceptional,” said President Obama. “No nation is perfect. But here in America, we confront our imperfections and face a sometimes painful past, including the truth that some of these soldiers fought and died for a country that did not always see them as equal.”

President Obama righted the historic wrong after a twelve-year review done by the Pentagon of past discrimination in the military. The review was prompted by a 2002 law passed by Congress. “This is the length to which America will go to make sure everyone who serves under our proud flag receives the thanks that they deserve,” said Obama.

Our biggest gratitude to these brave soldiers, and to those who fought hard in order to correct this past injustice done against them.

Read the names of those honored, including five Texans, and watch an AP clip highlighting the touching ceremony below the jump.All the veteran's names were listed on the White House website:

Living veterans honored at the ceremony:

– Specialist Four Santiago J. Erevia (of San Antonio, Texas)

– Staff Sergeant Melvin Morris

– Sergeant First Class Jose Rodela (of San Antonio, Texas)

Veterans honored posthumously at today's ceremony:

World War II veterans

– Private Pedro Cano

– Private Joe Gandara

– Private First Class Salvador J. Lara

– Sergeant William F. Leonard

– Staff Sergeant Manuel V. Mendoza

– Sergeant Alfred B. Nietzel

– First Lieutenant Donald K. Schwab

Korean War veterans

– Corporal Joe R. Baldonado

– Corporal Victor H. Espinoza (of El Paso, Texas)

– Sergeant Eduardo C. Gomez

– Private First Class Leonard M. Kravitz

– Master Sergeant Juan E. Negron

– Master Sergeant Mike C. Pena (of Newgulf, Texas)

– Private Demensio Rivera

– Private Miguel A. Vera

– Sergeant Jack Weinstein

Vietnam War veterans

– Sergeant Candelario Garcia (of Corsicana, Texas)

– Specialist Four Leonard L. Alvarado

– Staff Sergeant Felix M. Conde-Falcon

– Specialist Four Ardie R. Copas

– Specialist Four Jesus S. Duran


About Author

Omar Araiza

Staff writer Omar Araiza covers immigration, Latino voters, the U.S.-Mexico border, and LGBT issues. He is a proud South Texas native, born and raised in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Omar tweets from @AraizaTX.

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