WHAT OTHERS SAY: Gratitude at last for Jewish and Hispanic soldiers

Thursday, March 20, 2014 | 4:05 p.m. CDT

The U.S. righted terrible wrongs this week when President Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor on 24 soldiers who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

Most were Jewish or Hispanic and all earned eternal gratitude for bravery above and beyond the call of duty. But they were likely denied because of their ethnic or religious heritages.

Pfc. Leonard Kravitz, of Brooklyn, died in Korea in 1951, manning a machine gun during a withering attack, killing or holding off the enemy while drawing fire to his position.

His childhood friend Mitchel Libman believed that Kravitz had been wrongly bypassed for the nation's highest honor and waged a noble decades-long fight for proper recognition for Kravitz, uncle of the singer Lenny Kravitz, and others who had been slighted.

On Wednesday, Libman's effort paid off with awards for three vets and posthumous awards to Kravitz and 20 others who have passed away.

Sgt. Alfred Nietzel, a son of Queens, "selflessly covered for the retreating members of his squad, expending all his ammunition and holding his post until he was killed by an enemy hand grenade" in Germany in 1944.

Pvt. Demensio Rivera was born in Puerto Rico, joined the Army from New York and shipped off to Korea in 1951. When his rifle failed in battle, Rivera fought with his pistol, grenades and hand-to-hand combat.

Late as they are, the medals cleanse a stain on America's escutcheon and pay tribute, at last, to uncommon valor.

Copyright The New York Post. Distributed by the Associated Press.

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