Twelve years and many phone calls since Elsie Shemin-Roth started on a mission through bureaucratic no-man’s land, her father, a deceased World War I veteran, is one step away from getting the military’s highest decoration.
Under normal circumstances, the Medal of Honor is awarded within five years of an act of heroism. A waiver of time limitations cleared the U.S. Senate Friday as part of a minuscule addition to the massive military spending bill. The vote clears the deck for a final obstacle: approval from President Barack Obama.
“I am just so pleased that we are finally going down the homestretch,” Shemin-Roth, 85, said from her home in Webster Groves.
In 1919, her father was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for “extraordinary heroism,” according to a citation signed by Gen. John J. Pershing. That medal is the Army’s second-highest award.
Decades later, Shemin-Roth heard about a group of Jewish-American World War II vets getting their Army Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross and the Air Force Cross citations reviewed for an upgrade due to anti-Semitism. She wanted her father and other World War I vets to have a shot at the Medal of Honor, too.