Obama: ‘These Soldiers Fought and Died for a Country that Did Not Always See Them as Equal’

‘Sometimes our service members felt as if they needed to change their last names to fit in’

OBAMA: "Today we have the chance to set the record straight. This ceremony reminds us of one of the enduring qualities that makes America great. That makes us exceptional. 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. So with each generation, we keep on striving to live up to our ideals of freedom and equality, and to recognize the dignity and patriotism of every person. No matter who they are, what they look like, or how they pray.

"That's why more than a decade ago, Congress mandated a review to make sure that the heroism of our veterans wasn't overlooked because of prejudice or discrimination. Our military reviewed thousands of war records. They teamed up with veterans groups and museums to get this right. It was painstaking work made even harder because sometimes our service members felt as if they needed to change their last names to fit in. That tells a story about our past. But ultimately, after years of review, these two dozen soldiers, among them Hispanic, African-American, and Jewish veterans, were identified as having earned the Medal of Honor. 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."

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