Alexander, Blackburn Introduce Bill to Award Congressional Gold Medal to Master Sergeant Rodrick Edmonds

Posted on March 5, 2019

WASHINGTON, March 5, 2019 — United States Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) today introduced a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Master Sergeant Rodrick “Roddie” Edmonds, a lifelong Tennessean, in recognition of his heroic actions during World War II.

As the senior noncommissioned officer responsible for 1,275 United States service members at a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany, Master Sgt. Edmonds orchestrated a remarkable show of unity when the Nazis ordered him to identify and separate out the Jewish-American soldiers under his command. Disregarding the orders, all 1,275 soldiers stood together. Upon seeing the soldiers united as one, a Nazi officer angrily shouted, “They cannot all be Jews!” to which Master Sgt. Edmonds replied, “We are all Jews here.” The Nazi officer then threatened to shoot Edmonds if he refused again. However, Master Sgt. Edmonds refused again, stating that the Geneva Convention only requires the men to provide their name, rank and serial number.  The Nazi officer eventually turned away and left the scene. The actions taken by Master Sgt. Edmonds saved the lives of approximately 200 Jewish-American service members that day.

Senator Alexander said: “Master Sgt. Edmonds’ courageous statement, ‘We are all Jews here,’ saved hundreds of Jewish-American soldiers who were captured after the Battle of the Bulge. His story reminds us of why we say and believe, ‘We are all Americans.’ I do not know of a more inspiring example of the American character than the heroism of this 26-year-old East Tennessee soldier.”

“Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds’ unwavering solidarity with his Jewish comrades exemplified his unending will to achieve justice for the persecuted,” said Senator Blackburn. “He was a courageous hero who embodied the American spirit. This honor ensures Master Sgt. Edmonds will be remembered throughout history for risking his life to save the vulnerable.”

Full text of the legislation, which includes details on Master Sergeant Edmonds’ heroic actions, follows and is available online here.

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Lamar Alexander is the senior senator from Tennessee, and he serves as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. For his full biography, click here.