“More Than A Medal” Documentary Screenings Set for Washington, D.C., Area
October 5, 2022 — Screenings of a documentary exploring the Valor Medals Review Project, which is being conducted by Park University’s George S. Robb Centre for the Study of the Great War, will take place in the Washington, D.C., area at the National Museum of the U.S. Army (1775 Liberty Drive at Fort Belvoir [Va.]) on Tuesday, Oct. 18, and at the U.S. Navy Memorial (701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) on Thursday, Oct. 20. Both events begin at 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time) and are open to the public. Admission is free, but reservations are required at gsr.park.edu.
The 30-minute documentary, “More Than a Medal,” produced by Lame Deer Films in cooperation with the Robb Centre, interweaves the efforts of the researchers working against time, untold heroic stories of courage on the battlefields of France, on the seas and in the air, and the experience of modern-day descendants as they maintain cautious hope of recognition. You can watch a two-plus minute trailer of the film at youtube.com/watch?v=JU7apyz9FnA.
The event will open with remarks by Park University’s Tim Westcott, Ph.D., director of the Robb Centre, associate professor of history and associate archivist. Following the film screening, a question-and-answer session featuring Westcott, Ashlyn Weber, Robb Centre associate director of research and initiatives, and Joshua Weston, Robb Centre associate director of military research, will be conducted.
About the Valor Medals Review
In September 2018, the Valor Medals Review Task Force began the arduous research task of collecting and reviewing archival records, and genealogical and descendant outreach with the goal to provide the “state-of-play” and generate recommendations for the U.S. Congress and the Department of Defense to actualize. Park University endorsed legislation — included in the National Defense Authorization Act signed into law in December 2019 — which requires the Department of Defense to execute a systematic review of minority veterans from World War I who, in spite of valorous deeds, may have been unjustly denied awards due to race or religion.
To be eligible for the review, a veteran must have received a Distinguished Service Cross/Navy Cross and/or the French Croix de Guerre with Palm and/or been recommended for a Medal of Honor. Additionally, the veteran must be African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, Jewish American or Native American. With the exception of Native Americans, the criteria is based exactly on existing precedent used by Congress since the beginning of the systematic reviews in the 1990s. Though excluded by the World War II and later reviews, Native Americans are included in this review as their World War I service predates the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 (also known as the Snyder Act).
To date, researchers have identified 214 servicemembers — 105 Jewish Americans, 73 African Americans, 23 Native Americans, 12 Hispanic Americans and one Asian American — who have qualified for review.
Since 1941, the U.S. Congress and the Department of Defense have reviewed the military’s process for awarding valor medals to ensure minority veterans were recognized equitably, but no review has occurred for World War I veterans. In April 2019, however, the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate introduced separate bills to require the systematic review of minority veterans who served in World War I. Park University was the driving force behind bipartisan bills introduced in Congress (H.R.2249) and (S.1218).
The legislation requires the Department of Defense to carry out a systematic review of select members of the U.S. Armed Forces, who, in spite of valorous deeds, may have been denied the Medal of Honor due to race. The bills also waive the statute of limitations associated with any cases identified by the review, authorizing the award of a Medal of Honor to any individuals identified by the DOD in the study.
To find out more about Park University’s Valor Medals Review Project, visit gsr.park.edu.