WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush righted an old wrong when he awarded the first Medal of Honor to a black soldier from either World War I or World War II.

The honor was presented posthumously Wednesday to the elderly sisters of Army Cpl. Freddie Stowers, mortally wounded in France 73 years ago while leading his company against a German-held hill.

Bush, at an East Room ceremony, called the South Carolina farm worker ''a true hero ... a man who in life and death helped keep America free.''

Georgiana Palmer, 88, of Richmond, Calif., and Mary Bowens, 77, of Greenville, S.C., too frail to stand, received the gold medal as they sat on the platform before an audience that included the top Pentagon brass and other Medal of Honor recipients.

A great grandnephew, Army Staff Sgt. Douglas Warren, watched from a front- row seat after returning Tuesday from serving in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War.

Black soldiers had received the nation's highest military honor in other wars, but none from the world wars. Stowers becomes the 128th recipient from World War I.

Stowers, of Sandy Springs, S.C., was mortally wounded while leading Company C of the 371st Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division, to retake a hill on Sept. 28, 1918. The German soldiers faked surrender, then raked Stowers' company with machine gun and mortar fire.

''The assault annihilated well over 50 percent of Company C and in the midst of this bloody chaos, Corporal Stowers took charge and bravely led his men forward, destroying their foes,'' said Bush.

''Although he was mortally wounded in the attack, Freddie Stowers continued to press forward, urging his men on until he died,'' said the president.

--- Family Leave Bill Sent to Senate Floor Despite Veto Threat

WASHINGTON (AP) - Ignoring Republican warnings that the family-leave bill faces a certain veto from President Bush, a Senate committee has cleared the measure for action by the full chamber.

The bill, which would guarantee workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child or a family illness, was approved 12-5 by the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. A similar version is pending in the House.

Both are nearly identical to a bill President Bush vetoed last year as too restrictive on American businesses.

Labor Secretary Lynn Martin, who voted for the family-leave issue when she served in the House, recently sent a letter threatening another veto from the White House if the measure passes again.

''It seems to me nothing has changed ... a repeat of last year's veto is going to do nothing to balance family and work,'' complained Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, before voting against the bill.

Democrats, however, said the measure was crucial to protecting the jobs of Americans who need time off to care for sick children or parents. Growing public support might prompt the White House to change its mind this year, Democrats said.

--- House Panel Endorses NASA Budget

WASHINGTON (AP) - A House committee has approved a $14.27 billion space program for the next fiscal year, an increase of nearly 6 percent over 1991 but still $488 million less than President Bush had asked.

Included in the authorization bill approved Wednesday is $1.9 billion for the space station with an additional $128.9 million to be added when the National Academy of Sciences comments on NASA's plans to reduce the size of the station.

The authorization by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology does not require that the report be favorable, only that it be issued. The demand was included because the academy's space studies board said recently that the cut-down station's capacity for science research did not warrant spending $30 billion in this decade.

--- Humphrey Stamp Recall Reversed WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Postal Service has reversed itself and now says it won't destroy 300 million stamps despite an error in the margin of the 100-stamp sheets honoring the late Hubert H. Humphrey.

The stamp will be released during June 3 ceremonies in Minneapolis.

Postmaster General Anthony Frank's announcement reversed an initial decision to destroy the stamps and reprint them.

Frank said he decided to allow the stamp to be sold because there was no error on the stamp itself and reprinting it would have cost an estimated $580,000.

The error in the margin - also called the selvage - of the sheets of 100 stamps, indicates that Humphrey was vice president from 1964 to 1968. He was elected in 1964, but took office in 1965 and served until 1969.