March 21, 2014

On March 18, 24 veterans were awarded the Medal of Honor decades after their acts of service that earned them this highest recognition of valor. Sadly, just three were still alive to receive their medals in person. The mass ceremony was the largest since World War II and was the result of an Army review of each Jewish-American and Hispanic-American veteran (and ultimately, veterans of any ethnicity) who received our nation’s second highest honor, the Distinguished Service Cross. The review was prompted by concerns that prejudices caused these veterans to be overlooked for the award they were due. More than 6,500 cases from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War were revisited.

I’m struck by what a remarkable effort this was in an attempt to right the wrongs.

“Today we have the chance to set the record straight,” said President Obama. “No nation is perfect, but here in America we confront our imperfections and face a sometimes painful past, including the truth that some of these soldiers fought and died for a country that did not always see them as equal.”

At a fundamental level, this is someone (or, in this case, a nation of people) acknowledging their mistake(s) and offering an apology and a solution. Sounds like the root of candor to me.

It got me thinking – is it ever too late for candor? Is there ever a case where so much time has gone by that it’s no longer important to say and/or do the right, honest, respectful thing? I cannot imagine that to be possible.

Whether it’s an error in the books, misguided direction on a project, a corporation making up for a product error, or simply poor behavior at work or at home… admitting our short-comings, offering a sincere apology, and taking steps to make it better is always the right course, no matter when it happens. Ideally sooner rather than later, but it’s not ever too late.

The stories of each of these veterans is available here: