Medals Given to Japanese-American World War II Vets Begin Tour

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The Congressional Gold Medal awarded in 2011 to Japanese-American, or Nisei, World War II veterans, in recognition of their extraordinary accomplishments, will travel to seven cities across the country beginning in January 2013.

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) has partnered with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the National Veterans Network to share the inspiring story of these men who fought with bravery and valor on the battlefields of Europe and Asia, even while many of their family members were held in American internment camps back in the U.S.

The tour will bring the Nisei Congressional Gold Medal to some of the top museums in the country:

Nisei is a Japanese language term used in countries in North America, South America and Australia to specify the children born to Japanese people in the new country (who are called Issei). The Nisei are considered the second generation; and the grandchildren of the Japanese-born immigrants are called Sansei. The Sansei are considered the third generation. (In Japanese counting, "one, two, three" is "ichi, ni, san").

  • National World War II Museum, New Orleans—Jan. 12–Feb. 17, 2013
  • Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu—March 9–April 14, 2013
  • Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles—May 4–June 9, 2013
  • De Young Museum, San Francisco—June 29–Aug. 4, 2013
  • Oregon History Museum, Portland, Ore.—Aug. 24–Sept. 29, 2013
  • Chicago History Museum, Chicago—Oct. 19–Dec. 8, 2013
  • Holocaust Museum, Houston—Dec. 26, 2013–Jan. 24, 2014

At the conclusion of the tour, the Congressional Gold Medal will be on permanent display in “The Price of Freedom” exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

The medal will be accompanied by an educational package with an iPad application, social-learning website and curriculum developed by the National Veterans Network in partnership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. Centered on the character values associated with Japanese-American veterans—courage, respect, humility, perseverance, compassion and citizenship—these materials will provide users with a constantly growing, social-learning community.

The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service veterans by the U.S. Congress Nov. 2, 2011, in recognition of their exceptional service, sacrifice and loyalty to America. The Gold Medal represents Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. A complete list of recipients is available at House.gov.

Commonly known as the “Go for Broke” regiments, the 100th/442nd is one of the most highly decorated units in U.S. military history, having earned more than 4,000 Purple Hearts, 560 Silver Stars, seven Presidential Unit Citations and 21 Medals of Honor. The MIS, whose highly specialized contributions helped hasten the end of the war, was honored with a Presidential Unit Citation in 2000. More than 19,000 Japanese American soldiers served in these units during World War II.

The national tour of the Nisei Congressional Gold Medal is made possible by the support of AARP, Comcast/NBC Universal, Cole Chemical, Southwest Airlines and Pritzker Military Library.

The National Veterans Network is a coalition of Japanese American veteran and civic organizations representing eight regions in the United States that advocates on a national level to educate and enlighten the public about the experience and legacy of the Japanese American World War II soldiers.

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, nine research centers, and numerous educational and cultural programs. To learn more about the collaborating Smithsonian offices involved in this project, visit sites.si.edu, americanhistory.si.edu and apa.si.edu.

Visit your local library for these resources:

 

Rising Sons:The Japanese American GIs Who Fought for the United States in World War II
Bill Yenne, (2007).
Despite the fact that they and their families had been forced into internment camps, thousands of the American sons of Japanese immigrants responded by volunteering to serve in the United States armed forces during World War II.
Weaving together impeccable research with vivid firsthand accounts from surviving veterans, Yenne recounts the incredible stories of the Japanese-American soldiers who fought so bravely in World War II, men who were willing to lay down their lives for a country they were uncertain would ever accept them again. Their courageous actions proved that they, too, were true members of America's Greatest Generation.

Just Americans: The Story of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II
Robert Asahina, (2007).

I Can Never Forget: Men of the 100th/442nd
Thelma Chang, (1985).

Honor by Fire: Japanese Americans at War in Europe and the Pacific
Lyn Crost, (1994).

Dachau, Holocaust and US Samurais - Nisei Soldiers first in Dachau
Pierre Moulin, (2007).

U.S. Samurais in Bruyeres - People of France and Japanese Americans: Incredible story
Pierre Moulin, (1993).

Go For Broke : The Nisei warriors of World War II Who Conquered Germany, Japan, and American Bigotry
C. Douglas Sterner, (2008).

Online Resources

Go for Broke Education Center

Legacy of the Nisei
Legacy of the Nisei is an oral history compilation produced by the San Leandro (Calif.) Public Library.
Oral histories collected by San Leandro (Calif.) Public Library. First-hand accounts of life in the World War II internment camps and of Nisei soldiers who fought for the United States while their families were interned in ten camps throughout the United States.

 

 

Images:

1. Article illustration: 442nd Regimental Combat Team (United States) at Camp Shelby building a pontoon bridge during training. The bridge completed, a company of infantry rush with fixed bayonets to the opposite shore and enter the enemy's heavily wooded territory.
Military Photographer: Mace, Charles E. -- Camp Shelby, Mississippi. July 1943.
Source: Digitized version online at California Digital Library via The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

2. President Barack Obama and his guests applaud after signing S.1055, a bill to grant the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II, in the Oval Office. Also present are Rep. Mike Honda and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. Date: 5 October 2010
Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/10/05/awe-inspiring-chapter-americas-history

3. Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service (front)
Date: Awarded 2010 Presented 2011 and on various dates on "tour" before being put on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution
Source: http://www.usmint.gov/
Author: US Mint design: Obverse-Joel Iskowitz Reverse-Don Everhart


 

 

 

 

 

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