In an effort to correct possible acts of bias that spanned three wars, President Barack Obama will bestow the Medal of Honor on 24 Army veterans in the aftermath of a congressionally mandated review, designed to ensure that eligible recipients were not bypassed due to prejudice, the Associated Press reports.
The ceremony will honor veterans, mostly of Hispanic or Jewish heritage, who had already been recognized with the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second-highest military award, at a ceremony scheduled for March 18. Only three of the recipients are living.
"I never really did worry about decorations," Melvin Morris of Cocoa, Fla., who was commended for courageous actions while a staff sergeant during combat operations on Sept. 17, 1969, in the vicinity of Chi Lang, South Vietnam, told the AP.
Morris, who is black, said to the news service that he never thought that his race might have prevented him from receiving the Medal of Honor. He was surprised when the Army contacted him last May about the review and then arranged for a call from Obama, he said.
"I fell to my knees. I was shocked," Morris told the AP. "President Obama said he was sorry this didn't happen before. He said this should have been done 44 years ago."
Read more at the Huffington Post.