Jewish World War I hero eligible for Medal of Honor

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A Jewish World War I hero is eligible for the nation’s highest military honor.

A congressional spending bill passed last week includes a provision extending redress for soldiers deserving the Medal of Honor to Sgt. William Shemin.

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Anat Cohen at The Sheldon

Elsie Shemin-Roth, now 85, from suburban St. Louis, Mo., sought to have her father included under a law that mandated a review of troops who might have been denied the highest service medal because of discrimination.

President Obama earlier this year awarded the medal to a number of soldiers believed to have faced discrimination, but Shemin was not considered because the law did not extend back to World War I.

The massive spending bill passed last week by both houses of Congress and now awaiting Obama’s signature redresses the oversight.

Shemin had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest honor, although at least one of his superiors had recommended the Medal of Honor, the Associated Press reported.

At 19, on a French battlefield, Shemin crossed through gunfire three times to pull comrades to safety, taking a bullet in his head.

He started a family after the war and died in 1973.

Shemin-Roth believes her father was denied the highest honor because of anti-Semitism. “Now a wrong has been made right and all is forgiven,” she told the AP.