WASHINGTON — President John F. Kennedy said: "A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors."
Unfortunately, it reveals something else about itself by who it chooses not to honor.
For too many years, there has been a significant disparity when it comes to awarding the nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.
According to a 13 News Now investigation, as of May 2021, dating back to 1863, of the 3,526 Medals of Honor that had been awarded to 3,507 people, just 92 went to African American troops. Hispanic, Asia American, Native American, Jewish and women troops were similarly under-represented.
The Chief Historian of the National Medal of Honor Museum Ed Lengel stated: "Racism right up through the Vietnam War has played a significant role in preventing due recognition of deeds of valor."
Tuesday, President Joe Biden began leveling the playing field.
More than a half-century after the fact, four Army veterans from the Vietnam War -- one posthumously -- finally received the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House.
They are the late Staff Sergeant Edward N. Kaneshiro, Specialist Five Dwight W. Birdwell, Specialist Five Dennis M. Fujii and retired Major John J. Duffy.
It was made possible because of a Congressionally-mandated review of actions by Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
A similar review of under-recognized valor cases from World War II resulted in 22 new Medals of Honor being awarded.
"Not every service member has received the full recognition they deserve," said Biden. "Today, we're setting the record straight. We're upgrading the awards of our soldiers who performed acts of incredible heroism during the Vietnam conflict."
Biden continued: "Time has not diminished their astonishing bravery, their selflessness in putting the lives of others ahead of their own, and the gratitude that we as a nation owe them."
With the death last week of Hershel Woody Williams and adding in Tuesday's new honorees, there are now 66 living Medal of Honor recipients.
President Biden called Williams, "a giant."