Sergeant William Shemin will finally receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery in World War I. President Obama will bestow the medal at a White House ceremony on June 2nd.
That’s right! Sargent Shemin is getting the medal almost 100 years after he committed the acts of bravery that led to his receiving it. Well better late than never, right.
In case you were wondering why it took so long, anti-Semitism definitely played a part in the delay. During World War I and II Jews were not treated very well by the Christian establishment in the U.S. military. Many were denied medals for valor which would have easily gone to others for lesser acts of bravery. They were also denied promotions as officers.
Sergeant William Shemin will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while serving as a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces. Sergeant Shemin distinguished himself during combat operations in the vicinity of the Vesle River, Bazoches, France, on August 7-9, 1918.
Sergeant Shemin entered the Army on October 2, 1917. He was assigned as a rifleman to Company G, 47th Infantry Regiment, which moved from Syracuse, New York to Camp Greene, North Carolina, joining the 4th Infantry Division. The Division arrived in France in May, 1918.
While serving as a rifleman from August 7-9, 1918, Sergeant Shemin left the cover of his platoon’s trench and crossed open space, repeatedly exposing himself to heavy machine gun and rifle fire to rescue the wounded. After officers and senior non-commissioned officers had become casualties, Shemin took command of the platoon and displayed great initiative under fire, until he was wounded, August 9.
Ms. Elsie Shemin-Roth of Webster Grove, Missouri, will join the President at the White House to accept the Medal of Honor on her father’s behalf.
The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while:
Engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; Engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.