On January 13, 1997, President Clinton presented the nation’s highest valor award to seven African American soldiers, declaring “history has been made whole” at last for black heroes of World War II.
Only one of the seven was present to accept the award. The others were all deceased.
After the long-awaited ceremony, Arlene Fox, the widow of one honoree, described it as a vindication not just for her husband and the other men but “for black people everywhere. A great injustice has been righted.”
The White House ceremony attended by many of the honorees’ descendants and Pentagon officials, the president declared that the legacy of segregation and prejudice had long denied any black World War II veteran of equal valor the Medal of Honor.
But in the end, the deeds of our African American Veterans, Clinton said, “could not be denied. . . . Today America is profoundly thankful for the patriotism and the nobility of these men” and for their example, which “helped us find a way to become a more just, more free nation . . . more worthy of them and more true to its ideals.”