Being awarded a Medal of Honor by the United States government is considered one of the most prestigious distinctions. This medal is awarded to those who go above and beyond while serving the US Military. What does that entail? Putting themselves at risk to save others, helping their fellow members on the field if injured or in need of help. This medal signifies bravery, outstanding performance, and dedication while on active duty. American soldiers come from backgrounds as diverse as the United States itself. With that being said, I am proud to say that around 60 of the men that were awarded this prestigious Medal of Honor come from a Latin background. Not only are they Latin, but 15 of those recipients were born outside of the United states and stand proudly today fighting for this country.
Along with American-born recipients, some of these men are also from Chile, Spain, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. They fought in the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Army. These 60 Latin men stand before the United States with a medal earned for their valor and bravery. What does this say? It does not matter if you are born in the US or you are an immigrant, we are all willing to fight for our freedom and country. Naturalized citizens can love and respect the United States as much as anyone born and raised here. This memorial day we should pay special attention to these veterans as we experience a period of charged rhetoric and policy surrounding immigration, religion, and race. Political actors consistently challenge who has a right to claim the American identity, but what could show more dedication and patriotism than fighting for our country?
I would also like to take this space to honor the United States veteran stabbed to death by a White Supremacist in Portland, Oregon. Veteran, Rick Best, alongside Micah Fletcher and Taliesin Meche were attacked after intervening when Jeremy Christian targeted two teenagers with Islamophobic and racist hate-speech. Our veterans have chosen to protect and serve all Americans, regardless of religion, color, or ethnicity.