Roosevelt May Get Medal of Honor
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A century after he led his Rough Riders in battle at Cuba’s San Juan Heights, Theodore Roosevelt moved a step closer Thursday to a long-denied tribute, the Medal of Honor.
President Clinton signed legislation asking him to award Roosevelt the medal posthumously. But the nation’s highest military decoration, which Roosevelt actively sought, was not yet in the late president’s grasp.
Clinton delayed a final decision on awarding the medal until Army experts complete one more review of Roosevelt’s qualifications for it.
``The army is reviewing this proposal and will make a recommendation to the president in the future,″ White House spokesman Barry Toiv said. ``The president is looking forward to receiving that recommendation. He is hoping for a recommendation soon.″
Roosevelt repeatedly made clear in his private letters and in official papers that he felt he deserved the Medal of Honor for his actions under fire on July 1, 1898, in an action that became known as the battle of San Juan Hill.
He led his volunteer regiment into action alongside Army regulars up Kettle Hill, one of two hills comprising San Juan Heights, then mustered a force to advance up San Juan Hill but arrived after regulars had taken it.
Roosevelt’s friend, Col. Leonard Wood, original commander of the Rough Riders and later military governor of Cuba, recommended the future president for the medal. But the War Department denied it, perhaps because of personal friction between Roosevelt and the Army heirarchy.
``I am entitled to the Medal of Honor, and I want it,″ Roosevelt wrote at the time.