WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 5, 2010) – The U.S. Senate approved legislation (S. 1055) awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Japanese American soldiers of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) during the War. The legislation comes just prior to the 22nd anniversary of The Civil Liberties Act of 1988, offering redress to Japanese Americans interned by the US Government during the Second World War on August 10, 2010.
The National Japanese American Memorial Foundation states that the vote is another tribute to Japanese American WWII veterans, whose stories of patriotism and heroism while their families were incarcerated in American internment camps were essential voices of ‘personal justice denied’ that led to the enactment of The Civil Liberties Act.
“The Award of the Congressional Gold Medal to Japanese American veterans and the MIS will reaffirm what the Memorial and the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 stand for: American patriotism, perseverance, and posterity,” said Dr. Craig Uchida, NJAMF Board Chairman. “These veterans offer an unparalleled legacy bequeathed to the American people. The rights Japanese Americans fought for during and after the war are the rights of all Americans to freedom and to personal justice.”
Dr. Uchida also noted that an announcement is forthcoming from the Foundation about honors to be paid to veterans of the Military Intelligence Service and others on November 4, 2010 in Washington, DC in conjunction with the 10th Anniversary of the dedication of the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism during World War II.
The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress’ highest civilian honor. Before it can be presented for vote, two-thirds of both the House and Senate are required to become formal cosponsors. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced H.R. 347 in the House, and which was approved in May 2009. The Senate bill was introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and had 73 co-sponsors. Because of an important change to the legislation in the Senate, the bill returns to the House for final congressional approval – anticipated in September.
NJAMF has support the Congressional Gold Honor legislation all along.
Commonly known as the Go For Broke regiments, the 100th/442nd is the most highly decorated unit for its size and length of service in U.S. military history. Among the many awards and distinctions earned through the bravery and sacrifice of soldiers of these units are: 7 Presidential Unit Citations, 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars with 28 Oak Leaf Clusters, 22 Legion of Merit Medals, 15 Soldier’s Medals, 4,000 Bronze Stars and more than 4,000 Purple Hearts.
The contributions of the 6,000 Japanese American soldiers who served in the highly classified MIS were not known until passage of the Freedom of Information Act in 1974. Their work proved to be vital to U.S. military successes in the Pacific Theatre, from China to Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima to Leyte, and in Occupied Japan.
The MIS has been credited with shortening the war in the Pacific and saving countless Allied lives. President Bill Clinton honored the MIS with a Presidential Unit Citation in 2000.
NJAMF is a member of the National Veterans Network, an alliance of 22 World War II veterans’ organizations and nonprofits from throughout the United States whose missions are to serve the interests of the Japanese American World War II veterans or to preserve the Japanese American WWII experience.
Participating organizations include: Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), Washington DC; National Japanese American Veterans Council, Washington DC; National JACL, Washington DC; Chicago Nisei Post 1183/American Legion, Chicago, IL; Houston JACL, Houston, TX; Japanese American Veterans of Minnesota, MN; Oregon Nisei Veterans, Portland, OR; Oregon Nikkei Endowment, Portland OR and Nisei Veterans Committee, Seattle WA.
Additional National Veterans Network participants are National Japanese American Historical Society, San Francisco, CA; Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans, San Francisco, CA; Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial Project, Fresno CA; Go For Broke National Education Center, Torrance, CA; 100/442 Veterans Association, Los Angeles, CA; MIS Club of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; Nisei Veterans Coordinating Council, Los Angeles CA; 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans Club, Honolulu HI; 442nd RCT Veterans Club, Honolulu HI; MIS Club of Hawaii, Honolulu HI; Go For Broke Association, Honolulu HI and Nisei Veterans Memorial Center, Maui, Kahului, HI.
NJAMF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to education and public awareness about the Japanese American experience during World War II. NJAMF raised the private funds to build the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism during World War II. The Memorial is not only a monument to the Japanese American experience, but also a reminder that we must not allow anything like this to happen to any minority community again.