WWI African American service members weren't given 'proper recognition,' lawmaker says

Kaylah Jackson
June 14, 2019 - 4:34 pm

(Photo courtesy of National Archives)

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Was racism a contributing factor in service members from World War I being overlooked for service awards?

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., filed two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act Friday to review such accusations. 

The World War I Valor Medal Review Act championed in part by Hollen with support from Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., will reinforce the research of the World War I Centennial Commission.

In 2018, the commission established a task force to review hundreds of African American WWI service records. 

Congress supports research to examine if minority WWI troops were overlooked for the Medal of Honor

Task Force analyzes if racism prevent WWI troops from receiving the Medal of Honor

If passed, the review will use the commissions research on the World War I service history of five groups: African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Jewish Americans and Native Americans 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. 

However, in order for the review to take place, the Department of Defense must be authorized through Congress to open records from WWI.

“For far too long, many of our veterans that served in WWI and WWII have not received proper recognition – despite their heroic actions – because of the color of their skin. I’m proud to work on addressing this injustice, and I urge my colleagues to support these amendments to honor the actions of our veterans,” said Senator Van Hollen. 

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