Recognizing Our Soldiers
Congressional Gold Medal
Nearly seven decades after the beginning of World War II, the Congressional Gold Medal – the nation’s highest civilian award – was bestowed collectively on the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) for their extraordinary accomplishments in World War II.
It was a proud moment for the Japanese American WWII veterans, spouses and families to see these three units recognized for their valiant service and sacrifices. The National Veterans Network thanks the United States Congress and the bill sponsors, Congressman Adam Schiff and Senator Barbara Boxer for their leadership and national recognition of their wartime service.
A Congressional Gold Medal is created by the United States Mint to commemorate the achievements for which the medal is awarded. The U.S. Mint commissioned artists to produce three designs for the Nisei Soldier Congressional Gold Medal. The National Veterans Network established a Gold Medal Design Committee which worked with World War II veterans nationwide to review medal designs and to ensure historical accuracy. 90 surviving veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd RCT and Military Intelligence Service recommended a preferred design for the obverse and reverse side of the medal. The recommendation was presented to the Fine Arts Commission and Citizen Advisory Coinage Commission which approved the design in May 2011.
The Award Ceremony
TThe Nisei Soldier Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony was planned by the U.S. House of Representative Speaker in collaboration with the National Veterans Network. The ceremony was held at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington DC on November 2, 2011. More than 2,500 World War II veterans and veteran families witnessed the historic event. A three-day celebration was held that included a World War II Memorial & Bronze Star Ceremony, wreath presentation at the National World War II Memorial and memorial program at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism and a Celebration Dinner.
Speeches were given during the three-day celebration by:
- Speaker John Boehner
- Majority Leader Harry Reid
- Republican Leader Mitch McConnell
- Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
- Senator Barbara Boxer
- Representative Ralph Hall
- Representative Adam Schiff
- Senator Daniel Inouye
- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki
- General Odierno
- Invocation and Benediction by Donald L. Rutherford
White House Visits
Since the inception of the NVN, veterans of the 100th, 442nd and MIS have been invited to the White House where they were recognized for their military service.
Major General Alfred M. Gruenther, representing Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson in the official ceremony at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on July 3, 1946, enumerated the decorations and awards won by the 442nd and said, “Your outstanding record was unsurpassed by any other unit of comparable size.”
Gruenther said every Division in the 5th Army wanted the Nisei and soon the Sixth Army Group succeeded in getting the 442nd transferred to France. General Mark Clark, Commander of the 5th Army in Italy obtained General Dwight Eisenhower’s approval for the return of the 442nd to break the 6-month stalemate on the Italian front. Gruenther said “You participated with distinction in the final attack which brought about the surrender of the German group of Armies in Italy on May 2, 1945.”
Your outstanding record was unsurpassed by any other unit of comparable size.Major General Alfred M. Gruenther
About the Congressional Gold Medal
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States Congress. The medal is awarded to an individual or a group who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States. U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff introduced bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team. It unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives on May 14, 2009. After a nationwide grassroots campaign organized by NVN, it passed the United States Senate on September 23, 2010, which included the Military Intelligence Service. It became public law No. 111-254 with the official signing of the bill by President Barack Obama on October 5, 2010 in the White House Oval Office.
111th Congress – House of Representatives Act 347
111th Congress – Senate Act 1055
Congressional Gold Medal Tour
The National Veterans Network collaborated with the the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center to share the extraordinary story of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service on a seven-city tour. The original Congressional Gold Medal along with war time photos and objects were on display at seven prominent history museums nationwide attracting 325,000 visitors in a span of 32 weeks.
The seven-city tour Itinerary:
January 12- February 17, 2013
National World War II Museum New Orleans, LA
March 9 – April 14, 2013
Bishop Museum Honolulu, HI
May 4 – June 9, 2013
Japanese American National Museum Los Angeles, CA
June 29- August 4, 2013
de Young Museum San Francisco, CA
August 24 – September 29, 2013
Oregon Historical Society Portland, OR
October 19 – December 8, 2013
Chicago History Museum Chicago, IL
December 21, 2013 – January 26, 2014
Houston Holocaust Museum Houston, TX