On Thursday, Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe is the first Black service member to receive the Medal of Honor since the 9/11 attacks.
President Joe Biden awarded the Medal of Honor—the nation’s highest military award for valor—to three U.S. soldiers for risking their lives during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In 2005, Sgt. 1st Class Cashe rescued fellow soldiers from a burning vehicle in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Salah Ad Din Province, according to the White House. There he suffered fatal injuries.
Sgt. Cashe is the 91st Black recipient of the award.
Sixteen years after his death, Cashe’s widow, Tamara Cashe, accepted the posthumous award on his behalf.
Sgt. Cashe’s sister Kasinal Cashe-White told ABCNews that receiving the Medal of Honor “means everything” to the family.
“We lost our brother. He can’t be replaced. But this award means that his name, his legacy will go down in history.”ABCNews
ABCNews asked Cashe-White if she thought race was a factor at all when it came to the delay, she said, “I don’t think so. I think it was just a matter of timing. Did I want it in 2005? Yes. Would I have been happy in 2007? Yes. Would I have been ecstatic if it happened before now? Yes. But I am just over exhilarated that it’s happening now.”
Sgt. Cashe was one of three other recipients. Also posthumous, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz, 32, received the award for protecting a medical evacuation helicopter in 2018. Master Sgt. Earl Plumlee, 41, faced down suicide bombers at close range during a Taliban assault in Afghanistan in 2013.