Sins of Omission

The Fighting Irish

Before a new documentary series on World War II by Ken Burns even aired on PBS, there was controversy.  Mexican-American organizations complained that there was no episode that focused solely on their people.  Burns responded by adding a segment devoted to Mexican-Americans.  Nonetheless, the same groups complained that the additional material was not enough.  I could not help but think that Burns had not devoted an episode to Americans of Polish extraction, or Swedish, or Italian, or German, or Jewish, or any other specific ethnic group.  Moreover, I saw Mexican-Americans claiming that they have been awarded more Medals of Honor than any other ethnic group—and reporters accepting the claims as gospel.  I have refuted such claims on several occasions in the past, citing such sources as Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863-1978, prepared by the Senate’s Committee on Veteran’s Affairs.  I have absolutely no quarrel with a people feeling pride in their own, especially Medal of Honor recipients, the bravest of the brave, but when claims become wildly exaggerated and accepted as fact by the media, something must be said.

Since the Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1863, there have been some 3,400 recipients.  More than 500 of those have been Irish-Americans.  Mexican-Americans account for 39 awards.  Of the 728 recipients who were foreign-born, 257 were born in Ireland. ...

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