Tennessee delegation continues push for local World War II hero to receive civilian honor

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) — A World War II hero from Eastern Tennessee could receive the highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, on Capitol Hill in Washington if Tennessee’s delegation is successful in its efforts. Master Sergeant Rodrick “Roddie” Edmonds died in 1985, but the delegation will not forget his heroics.

“He stood in the gap. And if he hadn’t, those fellows would’ve undoubtedly perished,” said Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN).

Burchett sponsored the House Resolution to get Edmonds the award. During World War II, Edmonds, a prisoner of war at the time, stood up for hundreds of Jewish soldiers imprisoned with him as a Nazi officer tried to single out the Jewish prisoners. Edmonds stood up and said, “We are all Jews,” and wouldn’t back down as the officer threatened him.

“It was just an act of bravery. It was just an act to look after somebody else,” said Burchett.

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is helping to lead the push for the honor in the Senate with companion legislation. Despite a packed legislative schedule and controversy consuming the Capitol, Blackburn thinks they can convince other lawmakers to hop on board and get this passed this year.

“I think it is realistic. One of the things that is so important that we do is take the time to recognize those individuals that have served that have sacrificed,” said Blackburn.

If the Gold Medal is approved Edmonds would join an illustrious group of individuals, including figures ranging from Harry Truman to Elie Wiesel to George Washington, who received his from the Continental Congress.

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