By Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson
This month marked the 75th anniversary of Japan’s surrender during World War II. Dozens of veterans will gather together at Pearl Harbor on board the U.S.S. Missouri, where the original surrender took place, to honor the lives of those we have since lost, celebrate the lives of those who are still here, and to remind us of the tragedy and sacrifice associated with war.
One such case of sacrifice is a Waco native who was stationed aboard the U.S.S. West Virginia at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Not a man among the leadership ranks or on the front lines, but one relegated to the depths of the ship, tasked with preparing meals for his fellow sailors solely because of the color of his skin. Cook First Class Doris “DORIE” Miller was among the many heroes who leaped into action without hesitation when Japanese forces began their bombing runs in the harbor. With little regard for his own safety, Miller is credited for saving the lives of many, as well as shooting down several enemy planes on an anti-aircraft gun that he had no prior training for.
This Congress, and for the 13th consecutive Congress, I introduced H.R. 5549, the Doris Miller Medal of Honor Act of 2020. This bill, which would waive the five-year statute of limitations to authorize the President of the United States to award Doris Miller the Medal of Honor posthumously, has 57 bipartisan cosponsors and is endorsed by the NAACP, AMVETS, the National Association of Black Veterans, Inc., and the Association of the United States Navy, to name a few.
Doris Miller’s story is one of gallantry and patriotism–one of a man who fought for many things in life but only died for one: his country. Now, as we observe the month of the 75th anniversary of Japan’s surrender, it is my hope that we can properly and finally recognize Doris Miller with the Medal of Honor.