The Congressional Gold Medal
The Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the United States Congress and is, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. The decoration is awarded to an individual who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States. American citizenship is not a requirement.
The Gold Medal Bill
S 1055 passed the House of Representatives on September 23, 2010 thanks
to the leadership and work of Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Adam
Schiff. This bill recognizes the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd
Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service with the nation's
highest civilian honor by the United States Congress. The recognition
extends not only to those who are living but to those who were killed in action
and those who have passed on.
Congressman Adam Schiff, who introduced the House version of the bill, had stated: "... Man for man they were the most highly decorated combat units of the war. I can't imagine a group more deserving of Congress' highest honor."
Terry Shima and Grant Ichikawa, who are World War II Veterans and leaders of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), worked tirelessly with JACL staff in visiting Senate offices on Capitol Hill to ask for co-sponsorships of the bill. The Senate had passed S 1055 unanimously and also passed the amendment to include the Military Intelligence Service to the bill. With the passage of the amended version in the House, the next step is for the President to sign the bill.
Executive Director, Floyd Mori, commented on the debate. "It was very emotional to listen to
Congressman after Congressman extols the valor of the Japanese American
soldiers during World War II in spite of the fact that their families were
incarcerated behind barbed wire for no reason other than their race. Many
referred to the similarity of then and today's hatred aimed at loyal Muslim
Americans. We thank the veterans, and we commend the Congress for the
unanimous support of a measure that provides a great lesson that patriotism is
beyond color and ethnicity."
David Kawamoto, JACL National President, stated: "The Japanese American veterans of World War II are absolutely deserving of this recognition with the nation's highest civilian honor. Their patriotism during difficult times is exemplary. This honor is long overdue but welcome. We are very happy that this bill has passed so overwhelmingly."
Washington DC – On October 5, 2010 President Obama officially signed S. 1055 which will grant the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian award, collectively, to the U.S. Army's 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service for their extraordinary accomplishments in World War II.
The men in these units, comprised almost entirely of persons of Japanese ancestry, fought with uncommon bravery and valor against our nation's enemies on the battlefields in Europe and Asia, even while many of their parents and kin were held in internment camps. Their record demonstrates an abiding faith in the American dream, and provides an indelible testimonial to the meaning of American patriotism. The recognition extends not only to those who are living, but also to those who were killed in action and those who have passed on.
Senator Daniel K. Inouye, congress members Mike Honda, Mazie Hirono, Adam Schiff, Bob Filner, and Charles Djou were proudly in attendance along with Secretary of Veteran Affairs, General Eric Shinseki. Terry Shima, Grant Ishikawa, Osamu "Sam" Fujikawa, Jimmie Kanaya, and Yeiichi "Kelly" Kuwayama represented the veterans at the event. Christine Yamazaki, Chairperson for the National Veterans Network also was in attendance. The National Veterans Network, is a coalition of 22 Japanese American veteran and civic organizations nationwide established to serve the interests of Japanese American WWII and subsequent war veterans
Senator Daniel Inouye walked with a cane in his left hand stated:
“I was with several of my former comrades in
arms in the Oval Office today and though we appeared to be in a happy, jovial
mood, I am certain that all of us recognized the emotional caliber of the
moment. We knew that the recognition we were receiving was the result of lost
lives and bloodshed. We were humbled, proud and pleased that the contributions
and sacrifices we made in defense of our great nation were recognized. I am
very grateful to this nation for remembering
"This well-deserved Congressional Gold Medal honors the Nisei veterans and demonstrates the greatness of our country," said a statement by Hawaii's other Democratic senator, Daniel Akaka. "While some Japanese Americans were being wrongly interned due only to their ethnicity, these brave men stepped forward to defend our nation. Their bravery helped to not only win the war, it paved the way towards a more tolerant and just nation."
A medal design committee led by Major General Jim Mukoyama and Major General Tony Taguba has been formed to help provide feedback on insignias and other relevant materials that will be submitted to the U.S. Mint as part of the design process. Final design of the congressional gold medal will be approved by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in the spring or summer of 2011. The U.S. Mint will complete the medal in an estimated nine to twelve months from enactment of the legislation.
After the medal has been created, the Speaker of the U.S. House will host a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol honoring the 100th, 442nd, and MIS. During the ceremony, the medal will be presented to the veterans and their families before it goes to the Smithsonian for permanent display. Major organizations across the country will help sponsor veterans so that they may attend the ceremony, which was scheduled to take place in November 2nd, 2011.
Susumu Ito receives the Congressional Gold Medal
for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team at Emancipation Hall,
United States Capitol Visitor Center
Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 11:00 am.
Left to Right: Mitsuo Hamasu (100th Battalion),John Boehner (Speaker of the House), Susumu Ito (442nd RCT), Ralph Hall (Congressman from Texas), Nancy Pelosi (Democrate Leader of the House), Grant Ichikawa (MIS), Daneil K. Inouye (President Pro Tempore of the US Senate, Medal of Honor recipient 442nd RCT) and Harry Reid (Majority Leader of the US Senate). Thanks to Senator Akaka (D-HI) for the picture above.
With my friends Lawson Sakai, Susumu Ito, Eric Saul, a filmmaker and my publisher Mary Radnofsky.
The ceremonies were great !
I was the occasion to meet with old friends including Medal of Honor recipients George Sakato and Hershey Miyamura, General Robert Lee and General Peterson, Eric Saul, Susumu Ito, Sam Fujikawa, Yo and Shig Doi, Kelly Kuwayama, Jimmy Kanaya, Phyllis and James Oura, Virgil Westdale, Frank Masaoka, Jack Kumitoni, Lawson Sakai, Hitoshi Sameshima, George Kanatani, Don Seki, Tom Sakamoto, Marvin Urasu, Ted Wakai, Whittey Yamamoto, Nelson Akaji, Joseph Maruyama, Larry Oda, Beau Tatsumura, Keith Morikawa, and the color guards who came back from Bruyeres the week before, and also numerous widows and families of my friends already gone Judi Niiwawa-Tokiwa, Mrs Peter Okada, Mrs Doris Perlsweig and family, Sally and Tomi Muranaga, Brian Yoshii, Bryan Yagi, Glenn Hajiro, the Fujioka's family and more and more.
On December 17, 2011 at the Convention Center in Honolulu was held a ceremony for the people of Hawaii and the west coast who could not make it in Washington. 3.300 attendees and 400 Veterans get together after a parade in Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki.