MIAMI (CBSMiami) – President Obama bestowed the highest military honor in the nation to 24 Americans, including two with ties to South Florida at the White House Tuesday.
Congress determined the Hispanic, Jewish and African-American veterans were denied medals simply because of their ethnicity.
“I couldn’t believe that people who were fighting for the country just because they were Jewish or they were black or whatever were not getting the medal they deserved,” said Mitch Libman, who along with his wife Marilyn fought a decades long fight on behalf of the veterans. Only three of the veterans honored Tuesday are still alive to receive them.
One of those honored was the uncle of rock star Lenny Kravitz, who lives in South Florida. Private First Class Leonard Kravitz was killed protecting his fellow soldiers in the Korean War in 1951.
Also honored was U.S. Army Private Miguel Vera, who was born in Puerto Rico and killed in the Korean War. His uncle, South Florida club owner Joe Rodriguez, said his uncle deserved the honor years ago.
“It chokes me up talking about it,” said Rodriguez, himself a military veteran. “My uncle elected to stay back and cover his fellow soldiers during a battle that was pure mayhem. When they found him he was dead.”
Rodriguez’s next battle is to have his uncles remains, which are interred in Puerto Rico, transferred to Arlington National Cemetery where he can rest with his fellow heroes.