Alexander: Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds “Stood Up to the Nazis” During WWII to Save Others

Attends ceremony honoring Knoxville World War II veteran for his “extraordinary courage” that saved hundreds of lives

Posted on January 27, 2016

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2016 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is attending a ceremony tonight at the Israeli embassy to honor Knoxville native Army Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds, who is being posthumously awarded the “Righteous Among the Nations” award for his “extraordinary courage” to save Jewish-American soldiers during World War II.

“This is an amazing story of extraordinary courage and I am honored to attend tonight’s ceremony for Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds of Knoxville—the first American solider to receive this award presented by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Master Sgt. Edmonds stood up to the Nazis on behalf of his fellow soldiers, but his heroism isn’t limited to the fellow Americans he defended in that camp. I think of the many who are alive today because of Master Sgt. Edmonds’ efforts. Generations past, present, and future have been profoundly affected by this brave Knoxville soldier who declared boldly, ‘We are all Jews here.’” 

During World War II, Master Sgt. Edmonds was captured at the Battle of the Bulge and held at the Stalag IXA Prisoner of War camp for 100 days. When the German camp commander ordered Jewish-American soldiers to identify themselves, Edmonds commanded all of the more than 1,000 American captives to step forward, with Edmonds declaring, “We are all Jews here.” Even when the Nazi solider pressed a pistol to his head, Edmonds refused to back down. The Nazi commander ultimately withdrew the request and Edmonds’ bravery saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish-American soldiers.

The “Righteous Among the Nations” award is the highest honor presented by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum to non-Jewish people who risked their lives to save Jewish people during the Holocaust.

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