On this Veterans Day 2008, we salute to our veterans, both past and present. This article while over a decade old shows the contributions made by immigrants.

A Veteran’s Day Remembrance: Immigrant Medal of Honor Recipients
by Stuart Anderson

Stuart Anderson is director of trade and immigration studies at the Cato Institute.

November 4, 1996

As Veteran’s Day approaches, the time has come to pay tribute to those who have given their lives to this country, though they were not born in this country. Immigrants have received the Medal of Honor in every war since the medal was first established. To receive it, a recipient must risk his life, the bravery of his act must be considered beyond the call of duty and distinguished from other acts, and at least two eyewitnesses must have observed the act and provide incontestable evidence that it occurred.

More than 20 percent (over 700) of the Congressional Medal of Honor recipients in U.S. wars have been immigrants. As the official guide to recipients notes, “Those who have received the Medal of Honor since it was established in 1861 as the nation’s highest decoration are as different as the melting pot population of our country.”

Vietnam: At the age of 29, Laszlo Rabel was the leader of Team Delta, 74th Infantry Detachment. Rabel, a staff sergeant, had immigrated to the United States from Budapest, Hungary, and entered the service in Minnesota. He was leading his men in reconnaissance when enemy movement was detected. His team started to leave the area when suddenly a grenade landed in the middle of the team. Without hesitation, Rabel threw himself on the grenade, covering it with his body and absorbing the explosion. He lost his life but saved those whom he had led on the field of battle.

Korea: Lieutenant John Koelsch, a London-born immigrant, flew a helicopter as part of a Navy helicopter rescue unit during the Korean War. He had entered the service in Los Angeles but on the evening of July 3, 1951, he found himself on the Korean peninsula with darkness fast approaching. Word came that the North Koreans had shot down a U.S. marine aviator and that the man was trapped deep in hostile territory amid mountainous terrain. John Koelsch volunteered to rescue him.

As he descended beneath the clouds to search for the aviator the enemy fired on him. After being hit, Koelsch kept going until he found the downed pilot, who had suffered serious burns. A burst of enemy fire struck the helicopter causing it to crash into the side of the mountain. Koelsch quickly helped his crew and the downed pilot out of the wreckage. He led the men out of the area, barely escaping the enemy troops. For nine days they were on the run until the North Koreans finally captured them. During questioning, John Koelsch refused to reveal information. He died at the hands of his interrogators.

World War II: Marcario Garcia, born in Mexico, was 24 years old when near Grosshau, Germany, he found his company pinned down by the heavy machine gun fire of Nazi troops and by an artillery and mortar barrage. Though wounded and in pain, he refused to be evacuated. Instead, he crawled forward, all alone, and lobbed hand grenades into the enemy’s emplacement. He singlehandedly assaulted the position and destroyed the gun.

A short time later when another German machine gun started firing, back toward the German position he went. Alone, he again stormed the enemy, destroyed the gun, killed three German soldiers and captured four prisoners, helping to save his company.

World War I: In France, September 1918, U.S. Army Private Michael Valente found his company facing withering enemy machine gun fire. Nonetheless, Valente and another volunteer rushed forward into the enemy nest, where they killed two, captured five, and silenced the gun.

Valente saw another enemy nest close by that was pouring “deadly fire” on American soldiers. He and his fellow soldier assaulted that position as well, silencing that gun, too. They then jumped into a trench, killed two German soldiers and captured 16 others. Despite what the citation calls “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” and “utter disregard of his own personal danger,” Valente was not killed.

Michael Valente, born in Cassino, Italy, saved the lives of many American soldiers that day. Three years later, Congress passed the first national origins quotas under the theory that Italians and other southern Europeans were genetically inferior to native-born Americans and, therefore, should be kept out of the country.

Today some may still be concerned that immigrants do not share a commitment to defending America. These new concerns are as misplaced as the old. For as has always been the case, the evidence is that immigrants are as willing as natives to support the nation’s defense needs and, if necessary, to give their lives for their country.

12 Thoughts to “Veterans Day Salute”

  1. Moon-howler

    Many young people, especially immigrants, join the military to obtain job skills and just to have a job. Many young Irish men fought in the Civil War. There were entire Irish Units. Songs have been written about these units.

    The Irish Brigade has some interesting history.

  2. Elena

    Thank you Alanna, great article. I wish all our veteras peace and well being.

  3. Moon-howler

    Yes, Alanna. Excellent article. It has always been a subject that has interested me. I didn’t realize you had posted when I wrote my thread.

    Oh well, can’t get too much Veterans Day!

    What is the name of the song about the Irish Brigade? I keep thinking the Eagles did it.

  4. Moon-howler

    Here is a link for some of the Irish Civil War music. I am still searching for a modern song about the Irish in the Civil War.


  5. I feel they should abolish this holiday. A day like today is rife with war propaganda. Why did the founding fathers abhor a standing army? Have we forgotten why? Did we ever learn?

    We were born a nation meant to be at peace with herself and the world. Lady Liberty, elegant and strong. She who wished peace and security to all nations but drew her terrible swift sword only in defense of her own. And now we celebrate death in the name of the state.

    What is the definition of a soldier’s true duty?

    And what is a citizen’s true duty to the warrior class?

    What good is the bloom of duty from the hearts of our warriors if we respond by tossing it in the dust?

    Every war since WW2 has been unconstitutional. Do we now elevate blind obedience to the level of virtue because we fear what a question might lead to?

    Lt. Ehren Watada believes he is guided by duty and offers himself up as sacrifice:


    We haven’t been invaded since 1812.


    But whenever you turn on the TV we hear this mindless endless mantra ‘They’re fighting over thar’ so’s you can live in freedom at home’. They told us this when the enemy was a starving korean peasant who couldn’t locate the USA on a map. They told us this when the enemy was a wounded Vietnamese farmer who’s children had been incinerated with napalm. They told us this when the enemy was a scared Iraqi boy forced to invade a country he wanted nothing to do with.

    I saw a video where a veteran of many years said he had been all over the world during his career. He said that in all that time, he had never met an enemy of the constitution.

  6. Juturna


    How about Dunkirk? I just posted a comment about that on another Vet Day thread.

  7. Juturna

    I think we’ve been invaded by foreign business…. 🙁

  8. I agree Juturna that Dunkirk was a success in the middle of a greater military disaster for the British, all the more so because of the spontaneous help by anyone who had a boat that could cross the channel.

    My comments were not intended to denigrate military accomplishments. An accomplishment is an accomplishment. I was questioning if Veteran’s day is really a day to remember why all these guys died or a day for the State to promote War and glorify death for the State. In many cases, these young boys died for the powers that be and not for our freedom. At some level, we debase their sacrifice when we accept the explanation that they all died for freedom when our freedom hasn’t been threatened since 1812.

  9. Juturna


    Don’t you think Pearl Harbor was an invasion of sorts? I know my father who was nine at the time felt so. Coincidentaly, my son was nine on 9-11. He thinks of that as an invasion. The Aluetian Islands were occupied by the Japenese during WWII.
    Bombing American Embassy’s is technically an invasion as that is US soil.

    Veteran’s day was started by the British officially in 1919 as they lost almost an entire generation of men – which might support your arguement looking at their history! Think it was in the late 20’s in the US. WWI saw the US profiteering as they sold arms to boths sides. Read THE CAPTAINS AND THE KINGS by Taylor Caldwell. It’s chilling.

    I think the point of Veteran’s Day is not to glorify War but to remember those that gave service to their country. It’s a day of individual rememberance not glorification. The poppy, which is the symbol, is for the graves of the dead.

  10. I think Pearl Harbor was an attack, not really an invasion. But I would agree that we had a legitimate fight with the Japanese. However, FDR provoked them when he placed an oil embargo and thereby waged economic war on them.

    Our fight with the Japanese was just about the last legitimate fight we had. And that includes our fight with Nazi Germany. We really didn’t have a legitimate beef with Germany. They were no threat to us.

    And before people come down on me like a ton of bricks, remember this. Stalin murdered greater numbers of innocent people than Hitler did…and we held hands with him. We fought Nazi Germany for the sake of power, not for moral reasons.

  11. Moon-howler

    Mackie, there is a very interesting show on either history channel or pbs about the questionable moral alliances of the United States. Stalin was brought up. Many people were outraged at the time over our WWII alliance with USSR. One such person was George Patton.

    I do feel we had every right to be in it with Germany. Check out the number of merchant marine ships that had been sunk by German u-boats.

    I will agree that Pearl Harbor was an attack. I will agree that Stalin is one of the most reprehensible characters in history. He killed many more people than HItler. On the other hand, he got a head start.

  12. Moon-howler

    Mackie, actually Veteran’s Day is celebrated in many different countries. The whole 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month thing is universal. I think it is to honor those who have served in the military in both war and peace time.

    I expect that those who served in the Confederate Army might disagree with your one statement there…..about not being invaded.

    Also during WWII, there were shots fired on the shore in Oregon, Frogman type Germans were captured in NY, and U-boats were found in the Chesapeake Bay.

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