What does it takes for a member of a minority to be awarded the medal of honor?

Long, long time ago, when I was a little kid, I had a comic magazine about Jim Thorpe. It was at that time that I first got a wince about how racism works in the United States. As some of us will recall, Jim Thorpe was an Olympian whose gold medals were stripped because he was found to have played a couple of seasons in the minor leagues. There were also other athletes who did so but were not punished. The IOC punished him basically because at that time, they could not stand that an American Indian could win Olympic events. Even after the IOC admitted its mistake and reinstated his medals, it kind of tried to save face by saying he was a co-champion with other athletes.

So, what does Jim Thorpe has to do with today’s writing? It does because of this story. It is about the nomination of Rafael Peralta, a U.S. Marine who died in Iraq, for the medal of honor. President Bush praised him previously for throwing his body on a grenade in order to save his fellow soldiers. However, he was not awarded the medal of honor. The committee who oversaw the award questioned whether he did so even from the testimony of a marine photographer who stated that Peralta grabbed the grenade and absorbed the blast.

Shades of Jim Thorpe? You be the judge. The other soldiers who received the medal of honor during this current war in Iraq are: Paul Smith, Jason Dunham, Michael Monsoor, Ross McGinnis. None of them were members of a minority.


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