This 40-Minute Virtual Event Occurred on Tuesday, November 2, 2021
8:00pm EDT / 7:00pm CDT / 5:00pm PDT / 2:00pm Hawaii

The 40-minute virtual event highlighted the two year journey of the nationwide effort of 23 WWII veteran organizations and nonprofits to secure the Nisei Soldier Congressional Gold Medal that culminated with the historic Ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. The virtual event featured interviews from the principals of the national effort including bill sponsors Congressman Adam Schiff, Senator Barbara Boxer, United States Mint, Smithsonian Institution, WWII veterans, national leaders, and principals representing organizations actively involved in the passage and celebration of the Congressional Gold Medal. Special thanks to the Aratani Foundation, Charles & Helen Moriyama and JA Community Foundation for sponsoring this presentation.

An American Story

We share the extraordinary stories and lessons of the Japanese American soldiers who served during World War II.

Watch the Nisei Soldier Story

The Congressional Gold Medal ceremony and events meant so much for my father, Tosh Okamoto, and my father-in-law Harry Higaki who served in the MIS. It was a privilege that we could celebrate with both of them. I could see their deep fulfillment being recognized after years of discrimination and silence. At the same time, they were grieved that fellow veterans who had passed on did not receive the recognition they deserved while they were still alive. We stand on their shoulders and their sacrifices.

It was such a memorable moment to honor the brave heroes of WWII. It touched the hearts of our veterans as well as our families. A moment we will never forget!

Grandpa was very proud to have received the Congressional Gold Medal! He unfortunately passed away three years ago and cannot join the anniversary celebration.

Receiving this honor meant the world to my dad – Yoshimori “Roy” Aka. When I was growing up, he never said too much about his WW II experience, but as he got older and started to get requests for information, he opened up.

After receiving the medal in D.C. in 2011and returning to Ohio, he carried it everywhere – showing it to people who lived and worked in his retirement community, the barber shop, everyone. He is 99 years old today and his memory is failing quite a bit, but I know that the Congressional Gold Medal filled him with great pride.

Although we lost our father in 2005, my siblings and I attended the ceremony in Washington DC along with our mother, who felt honored to sit on the Capitol floor along with the other veterans and their families to receive this prestigious award. We appreciated the long-overdue recognition of the valor and sacrifice of American citizens fighting for their country while their families were incarcerated by the very same government. We just wish our father had still been alive to personally receive the acknowledgment he deserved.

My father had tears running down his cheeks after the ceremony, telling me the speakers said nice things about his unit. This is some consolation after, in the 1950s, many students in my school refused to believe my father was in the AMERICAN army. My wife, Ann Baba Newman, and I had the privilege of escorting my father-in-law, Robert Masao Baba to Washington for the ceremony. We were very honored to be there and were very impressed with the care taken to recognize the contributions of the Nisei Veterans.

I, Patricia Doyle with my sister, Carol Nakatsui and our Dad’s first grandson, Mathias Nakatsui had the honor to witness the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal. In addition, we proudly watched our Dad being awarded the Bronze Star. After the award ceremony, our Dad shared for the first time his personal war experience in detail with us. We will always treasure that moment.

My fathers comments:

My Congressional Gold Medal Experience
by Francis Masateru Fukuhara

On November 2, 2011 the Congressional Gold Medal was bestowed upon the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments during World War II. These segregated units of the United States Army were composed mostly of Nisei who in the fear and hysteria following the bombing of Pearl Harbor were illogically classified by the draft board as 4-C, a designation of enemy aliens regardless of their native born, American citizenship.

In the spring of 1943, the Army decided to form a segregated Nisei combat unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which would be deployed in Europe. Early in 1944, their draft designation was changed from 4-C to 1-A and Nisei men were actively drafted primarily as replacements for the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team and for training as linguists in the MIS for deployment in the war against Japan. For the relatively short time they were permitted to serve, in both the European and Asian War Theatres, the Nisei accomplishments were extraordinary. The 100th/442nd RCT was the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history and one of their battles was included among the ten most important battles in United States history.

The linguists of MIS participated in almost every major air, sea and land battle in the war against Japan. The language and intelligence expertise provided by the Nisei of MIS gave a huge strategic advantage to the Allied Forces in the Pacific War. The Nisei of MIS were credited by General MacArthur’s Chief of Intelligence for shortening the war by two years with commensurate savings in resources and manpower. All of this was accomplished by the Nisei while many of their family and friends were still incarcerated in concentration camps by the very government for which they fought.

For me, the Gold Medal Presentation Ceremony was a remarkable experience. Having lived through the insult of being classified an enemy alien by my own beloved country; suffering the humiliation of being evacuated from my home and incarcerated behind barbed-wire in one of America’s concentration camps; and being eye-witness to the rampant anti-Japanese social/economics of pre-World War II and West Coast America, the messages conveyed at the ceremony were particularly heart-warming. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that the most powerful people in the nation would rise, one after the other, to condemn the racial prejudices of the past and applaud the accomplishments of the Nisei soldier!

I was particularly surprised at the presence and remarks of Senator John McCain, the senior Senator from Arizona. The same McCain who voted against Martin Luther King Day and Redress for Japanese Americans had high praise for the Nisei soldier and commented on the bipartisan support for the CGM award. I felt the CGM Award Ceremony was a once in a lifetime event for Japanese Americans.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor awarded by Congress. The award is as old as this nation with the first Medal awarded to George Washington by the First Continental Congress. It has since been awarded 146 times to such famous inventors such as the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison, humanitarians like Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Dalai Lama and athletes such as Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson. As Gold Medal recipients we have very illustrious company.

I was always told that you are known by the company you keep. The CGM was a totally unpredictable honor which I shared not because of any particular accomplishment, other that being associated with some extremely high achievers, the Nisei Veterans in World War II.

For our family, it was fun seeing old friends and making new ones at the various Congressional Gold Medal events.

My daughter Lindsay and I were honored to receive the Gold Medal for my father who passed in 2003. I wish he could have been with us. It was an honor to join other family members in recognizing and celebrating the valor and bravery of our Niisei veterans. Go for Broke!❤️

It was a privilege and honor to attend the Gold Medal Ceremony, to hear the stories of so many brave, loyal Japanese Americans. It was also wonderful to be able to share their story and the history of our family with my son. My only regret is that my father was not there to receive the recognition that he so richly deserved for his actions and commitment.

Reflecting back to November 2, 2011, it was my honor to accompany my father, Samon Horii to this once in a lifetime, historic event to receive the Congressional Gold Medal and to attend the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. My father served in the Military Intelligence Service.

When my father made this trip to Washington DC, he was 95 years old, healthy and still quite active. I remember, he was so happy and excited that he was going for the first time to see the U.S. Capitol, National World War II Memorial, the National Japanese American Memorial, Arlington Cemetery to see the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the many Smithsonian Museum and much more. My husband, Russell and I were so glad we were able to share in this wonderful experience with him.

Now, we have many memories and stories to share with our children so they can appreciate the importance of the sacrifice and service the Nisei soldiers did for our country. Looking back, we are very thankful that we always made the time to be a part of his amazing life. In 2019, my father passed away at the age of 103 years old. He lived a long and fascinating life. From his many stories, we all learned so much from him. Our family will always cherish all of the memories and stories we have and this is my father’s legacy that will live on with our children and future generations.

In Loving Memory of Samon Horii
Joyce Horii Chung & Russell Chung

My dad flew from Sacramento, CA to Washington, DC by an Honor Flight. My son, Darin Peterson, daughter-in-law, Kellie Peterson, and grandson, Kyle Peterson flew from Portland, Oregon with my husband, Steve Morris and me, Karen Hosoda Morris. As seats in the main ceremony were limited to one guest, my dad chose Kyle Peterson, his youngest grandchild, to share this honor and historic event. My dad was so excited to be in attendance he was up early each morning to visit with as many people as he could find and he was the last one to go to bed each night. He was also excited and proud to attend this ceremony with three generations of his family. It was a momentous occasion for all of us and we were so proud!

My father was born in 1923. He, my Mom, and all four of their kids went to the Ceremony in 2011. It was an emotional experience for all of us, and we were so grateful for those who put the Ceremony and associated activity together. My Dad is 98 now!

It was such a great experience to be invited to the Congressional Gold medal ceremony. Seeing all the veterans and their families in one place was truly an honor. I enjoyed the speakers and meeting the late Senator Inouye. Senator Inouye and my father went to the same high school in Hawaii and being able to have my mother and I spend a few minutes with him was inspiring and such an honor.

The above ceremonies in DC were tremendous. I accompanied my Uncle Frank Yamamoto there who was immensely proud to be there!!

The Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony was a beautiful celebration honoring our amazing and heroic veterans. We are so thankful that my dad was able to be honored. We were humbled by seeing the veterans, and hearing their stores of sacrifice and loyalty.

My sister Barbara and I were fortunate enough to share the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony with our father 11/2/11. It was a very proud event for him and his friends who were able to travel. Later in November he was interviewed by the local paper. I’ve submitted a copy of that article.

This was the last time we were able to travel with my dad which made the trip so memorable. We met the extended families of so many of his war buddies and had a chance to listen to them reminisce and “talk story”. Many of their stories we were hearing for the first time.

I was honored to take my Dad to DC to receive his medal and see his comrades for the last time as he passed away in April 2012.

I had the honor of proudly escorting my Dad to DC for the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony. On our SWA Honor Flight to DC, the Pilot stepped out of the cockpit to announce, “Today we are honored to have on our flight – war heroes, veterans of the 100th 442nd.” He gave a brief history of the 442nd and the Congressional Gold Medal which they were being awarded. The entire plane applauded. “This is already a good trip!” I told Dad. At every event we were surrounded by generals, legislators, media…a pretty big deal for Staff Sgt. Iwataki. “Never saw so many generals in my life,” he chuckled. At 92, receiving the CGMedal was an honor, a legacy for his family. As we waited for our flight home, a group of young men in uniform bought us drinks and talked with us till our plane arrived. On the flight home, I’ll never forget the moment when Dad turned to me and said,”You know, this is the first time I felt like a real American.”

If we could sum up our father’s life in a word, it would be devotion-to-country, to family, to God. He rose to the occasion when he enlisted in the army on March 24, 1943, with no expectation other than to duty. He was in the Anti-Tank Company of the 100th/442 Regimental Combat Team. There was a gentleness to his devotion embodied by his loyalty to his comrade in arms, his family, and his country. He was grateful for a life spared and considered everything after combat a bonus. Devotion was his obligation to honor those who passed before. That he lived to receive the Congressional Gold Medal surrounded by comrades and family was an unexpected blessing we will be forever grateful for.

My father was one of 50 or so Nisei enlisted who received a battlefield commission to 2nd LT and later served in Japan, the Philippines, Okinawa and Korea before resigning his commission to become the first Hawaii Nisei to join the US Diplomatic Foreign Service.

How proud Dad was to receive the award. The 2011 CGM event was so well organized and made the vets and families feel very special during that weekend. Dad enjoyed seeing friends and connecting with the other vets. Unfortunately, he became ill right before the formal ceremony at the US Capitol and had to spend a night in the hospital. Members of the 100th Battalion visited him and other Nisei vets there. The doctors and nurses worked diligently so he could be released in time for the banquet. Before he was discharged, the medical staff came to congratulate him. In a separate incident, when our family was waiting at the airport to return home, a man asked if Dad was a CGM recipient, asked to see the medal and thanked him for his service. He offered Dad his first-class seat and also told the flight crew about the award. The pilots came back to speak with him. During a layover in Omaha, the flight attendant made an announcement that Dad was on the plane and the passengers gave him a round of applause.

After the event Dad’s face lit up whenever the subject came up. For a man who never talked very much about it before, he willingly shared his award and his MIS experience in Japan with family and Colorado organizations, including Valley High School (Platteville) and the Lakewood Heritage Center. He was so honored and cherished the CGM, and we (his family) feel the same. Thank you.

The Congressional Gold Medal awarded to my father posthumously was presented to my mother, Mary Kubo by Congressman Anna Eshoo at a Japan town ceremony in San Jose, California. (picture attached) He was the sole recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross in the MIS, which was awarded for his actions in Saipan.

Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony: A Personal Reflection
by Gloria Kumagai

On October 31, 2011, my brother, Alex, my husband, Steven Savitt, and I took my dad, Hisashi “Butch” Kumagai, to Washington, D.C. for the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony. This event honored the Japanese American soldiers of the 100 Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS). The medal is Congress’ highest civilian award.

Approximately 300 Japanese American veterans made the trip, bringing their families with them, spanning four generations – Nisei, Sansei, Yonsei, and Gosei – totaling about 2,500! There were over 30,000 Japanese Americans who served in WWII. Aging and health prevented many from attending. I felt fortunate that Dad, at 93 years old, could make the trip. It was an emotional sight to see the veterans, many of whom came with their walkers, wheelchairs, and canes. Unfortunately, one veteran passed away, and two veterans were hospitalized due to heart problems during the time we were there.

Dad and I had to board a bus on the day of the ceremony at 7:00 a.m. to go to the U.S. Capital Visitor Center. We sat in Emancipation Hall until 11:00 a.m. when the ceremony began. Dad sat with the veterans; Alex and I sat in an auditorium and watched a live broadcast of the ceremony. Steve watched the ceremony at the hotel. Speakers included House Speaker John Boehner, Senator Daniel Inouye, and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Adam Schiff, both Democrats and sponsors of the legislation honoring the Japanese American soldiers, also spoke. Senator John McCain told the vets that they did everything and more that was asked by our country.

Thanks to private donors, each veteran received a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal. The original medal is in the Smithsonian. The medal can be ordered from: http://www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/medals/?action=medal&ID=30

Dad visited the hospitality area as much as possible to find and re-connect with his buddies from the G Company. Five of them attended the ceremony. He also re-connected with the wife of his foxhole buddy, who passed away in 2000. It was eye-opening to hear their stories of growing up and their experiences during the war. These were very fortunate individuals who made it home. Dad rarely spoke about the war when I was growing up. I found out how he was registered as an enemy alien while in camp. He signed up for civilian defense training and was released from camp. Two days later, he was given the status of A1 and drafted into the army!

Dad had the energy to visit the World War II memorial. We also went to the National Japanese American Memorial that was built with private donations from the Japanese American community. I discovered that two of my uncles were donors. This memorial is a must see if you visit Washington, D.C.

A gala dinner was the concluding activity, attended by over a thousand persons. General Eric Shinseki, who waa head of the Veteran Affairs Department, was the featured speaker and received a standing ovation. Three stories of vets were shared, which told of the experiences, sacrifices, and subsequent post-WWII life – typical of Japanese American soldiers. This was the highlight of the program. The dinner was a nice way to celebrate the awarding of the medal and acknowledge the vets again.

This was a once in a lifetime event – unforgettable – which I am glad that I was able to share with my Dad. It certainly deepened my understanding of and appreciation for our WWII Japanese American vets. This event also presented an opportunity to recognize the richness of the legacy the vets are leaving us.

Gloria Kumagai

The Army Honor Guard did such an amazing job transporting and escorting the Veterans from the hotel to the Capitol. Watching them wheel some of the vets in, and then helping them walk a short distance in was amazing. Because my mom was able to attend, we were on a bus that was scheduled to leave closer to the start of the ceremony.

This was a wonderful and long overdue event, which I am so grateful my father was able to participate in. It was such a touching time for him to be back together with his fellow members of the 100/442nd, and in particular those he fought with in “F” company. I have never seen him so happy to see those he served with and be proud of what they were able to accomplish, even in the mist of such great loss. On behalf of my mother & father, sisters and my family, we thank all those who help make this event a reality and hope that this chapter in U.S. history will not be forgotten for years to come.

That is my father is in the 10th Anniversary video, close-up of him in minute 24:19. He died May 12, 1994. 74 years old. He was very proud and went to many reunions. Sorry he missed this.

I wanted to accompany my father to the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony in Washington DC. However, because it was in February, Dad didn’t want to go as it would have been very cold and possibly slippery.

I did attend the subsequent local Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony in Seattle and proudly watched as my Dad was finally given the award. I was sad that Mom did not live long enough to see this. She would have enjoyed celebrating it with Dad.

Thank you to Congress for the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the 442nd, 100th and MIS. It was an honor to be at the special presentation in Washington, D.C. as a representative for our father Fred Matsuno. And thank you for the replica medal that was given to us as well.

Veterans: Kenichi Matsuoka, Kaname Takemoto, Tom Asaki, Goro Asaki, Chuck Inada, Harry Kiyomura

Units: Military Intelligence Service, 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd RCT

Lily’s husband Kenichi Matsuoka was an instructor at Camp Savage, Minnesota, and then as a Staff Sergeant was sent to Warrenton, Va. There he was in charge of a group of kibeis at the Army Signal Corp. where they translated Japanese codes, etc… Lily was the only wife at Warrenton and gave birth to Karen there.

Alice Takemoto, of Kensington, Maryland, was the wife of Kenneth Kaname Takemoto; originally from Kauai, HI, he served in the 100th Btn as an infantryman and combat medic in Co B and Med Co. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster. His professional career spanned 32 years as a scientist at the National Institute of Health.

Harriet Ishimoto was on the staff of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives. Serving in the district office, Harriet coordinated developmental activities with the Nikkei community, and after the ceremony, coordinated the Gold Medal’s tour with the Smithsonian Institution. Harriet’s father, Harry Kiyomura of San Mateo, CA, served in HQ Co, 100th, in Italy and during the Occupation. He was awarded the Bronze Star during his service in Italy and received his gold medal in a ceremony hosted by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA).

Harriet’s husband, Norman Ishimoto, had three uncles receiving the medal, two posthumously. Present for the ceremony was Goro George Asaki, a veteran of the MIS. He served in the Battle for Manila and in the Tokyo area during the Occupation.

Two of Norm’s uncles served in I Co: Goro’s elder brother Tom Asaki of Hanford, CA, and Charles (Chuck) Inada, of Gilroy, CA. Neither would speak of any experiences; they each were awarded the Purple Heart. We know further of their military service only that Tom (even though the eldest son of five so exemptible, and with six sisters) enlisted immediately after Pearl Harbor, and was trained as a medic before activation of the 442.

Norm’s father, Paul Itsuo Ishimoto, enlisted in the MIS but was disqualified due to having recently survived tuberculosis; he was first interned in Hillcrest TB Sanitarium. He was able to serve in the last year of the war with the Research and Analysis unit of the Office of Strategic Services in Washington, DC.”

Being able to be present for the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony to represent my grandfather, Jumpei Mine, who had passed away 1 year before the ceremony was very special and meaningful to me. I was so honored to receive the award on his behalf and to participate in this historic day. I am forever grateful for the bravery and sacrifice of those in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Battalion who fought prejudice at home and a war abroad.

My sister and I attended the events to honor our father and uncles. My Dad was aware of the CGM award, as a nurse had posted an newspaper article in his hospital room, earlier in the year. Sadly, we lost my father on June 8, 2011. We had quite a time trying to enter the dining room, even carrying email and registration documents. BUT, when we did enter the room, I said out loud, “Dad, we made it!” At that very moment, I looked up and my Dad’s photo was on the large screen overhead. I pointed it out to my sister and we had a heartfelt, bittersweet moment of pride. Many thanks to all who worked so hard to make the experience for all of us so very memorable.

My dad, Shig Momoda, got to see so many of his friends from the war. Some he hadn’t seen for many years. I was so moved by how they were acknowledged during our flight to Dulles by the flight crew and how the airport crew arched a stream of water over the landing plane to acknowledge the special passengers aboard. The ceremony, multiple presentations, and the entire weekend were absolutely spectacular. I’ve never been so proud of my dad.

Really enjoyed getting to spend the time with my grandpa, he had the most fun just hanging out in the Hospitality Room with all his 442 buddies. Though it took forever to finally get a group shot of all the F company veterans in attendance.

Also trying to explain the Chick Fil A cow mascot to grandpa was funny since we are from Hawaii and don’t have that restaurant.

A year prior to the Ceremony, dad had a debilitating stroke that left his left side paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. It was questionable if he was going to able attend. My sisters and I were conflicted; a cross country plane flight? The logistics were complicated. Everything seemed like an obstacle. I was nervous. I was so concentrated on simply getting him there.
But it all became very clear as soon as we arrived in Washington DC.

Being handicapped, Dad and I were the last to leave the plane. But outside of the arrival tunnel, there had assembled a throng of veterans and local families. When we made our way down, they saluted, they cheered, they applauded. Tears welled up in Dad’s eyes. It became clear at that very moment that this was very important. This was very special. This was a recognition of a lifetime and I was thankful that it was happening and that we had made the effort to make sure that dad had a part of it. The commemoration and events were yet to come, but, with this moment, we knew how significant this time was.

SGT Nakaichi did not talk much about his WWII experience across the Pacific with General McArthur but saved a picture of his fellow soldiers in front of the General’s staff car in Tokyo, Japan 1945.

My mother was quite pleased to attend the ceremony and commemorative proceedings for this occasion. She had lived several years as an internee in one of the War Relocation camps established for Japanese Americans during the war. I was proud to accompany her.

He was so proud and felt recognized for his service that he wasn’t allowed to talk about for a long time.

I was honored to experience the monumental event and to have met veterans with their relatives. As I sat in the Capitol Building, I cherished the moment in representing my father who passed away in 1948. My heart beamed with pride and love for my dad who I felt was sitting next to me. I will forever remember this ceremony which honored all Nisei veterans of WWII.

My father beamed with pride at such wonderful recognition which we all felt was long overdue. At times he and his fellow vets were excited and joyous. At times you could see the quiet, solemn reflection and even some of the pain as memories were revisited from a time gone by. It was an honor for my family to be able to attend and one that is engrained in my mind.

The ceremony was truly a highlight of my life – I am so proud and honored to be a daughter of one of these great heros!

Very memorable event. Glad I was able to go and honor my dad plus represent the family there.

It was so enriching to see so many Nisei veterans and their families gathered for the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony. My Dad, Tadashi Nukuto, was so glad he attended.

Thank you for doing this commemoration. The entire Gold Medal Celebration was wonderful. My only regret is that my father, Dick R. Oda, who was also MIS, was not alive to witness it. He would have been over the moon. He was so proud to have been a soldier. I thanked one of the generals who was at the celebration for such a beautiful ceremony. And he said that he was thanking my family for what my dad had done. It brought me to tears.

It was a profoundly meaningful and vividly dreamlike encounter with our “greatest generation” in person and in context beyond fondest dreams, with the family together and with a spotlight of recognition from the nation so dearly loved and sacrificed for.

It was a trip of a lifetime escorting my Uncle Goon Sakaguchi to this event. I was very proud of him. To see him so happy to see his friends and to share his memories with the family was priceless. I escorted him in his wheelchair and his oxygen. It was a tough trip but wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

By the 2000s, my mother, Mineko Sakai, had stopped traveling, so I was Dad’s guardian/companion for this event. Dad enjoyed seeing E Co buddies who were able to make it, especially the rarer chance to see E Co veterans who did not live on the West Coast, as well as veterans from other units who had travelled with him on one of his dozen or so trips to the n the 2000s, my mother, Mineko Sakai, had stopped travelling, so I was Dad’s guardian/companion for this event. Dad enjoyed seeing E Co buddies who were able to make it, and especially the rarer chance to see E Co veterans who did not live on the West Coast, as well as veterans from other units who had travelled with him on one of his dozen or so trips to the Vosges Mountains, where the citizens of Bruyeres, Biffontaine, and other nearby towns celebrate annually their liberation from German occupation by Nisei troops, including Lawson. A sampling of my photos from the CGM events is attached.

A wonderful event which I was honored to attend. Our Nikkei WWII veterans were finally properly recognized as heroes.

My father was very honored to be a part of the ceremony, and was also thrilled to see his photo displayed when the exhibit was at the Chicago Historical Society. He met many other veterans, some whose friendships were continued after the ceremony to this day. I am glad he had the opportunity to be a part of this special honor.

Was so happy…recognition overdue.. so well deserved…

My dad was surprised when the Hawaii contingent arrived in Washington DC and were met at the airport with a water salute for veterans on the plane and dozens of cheering spectators at the gate. It was a stark contrast to the arrival of the Nisei and their Issei parents to Minidoka, their “home” behind barbed wire 70 years earlier. Dad was proud to be an American soldier and flew the flag during every national holiday. Today he rests at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific with his WWII comrades.

On November 2nd, 2011 our family witnessed history. The United States Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service. Seeing these veterans gathered in the United States Capitol Visitor Center, Emancipation Hall before members of the United States Congress was awe-inspiring. After almost 70 years the country finally recognized the extreme conditions under which the Japanese American soldiers served and their valiant sacrifices on the battlefield while their families were incarcerated in internment camps. Their loyalty and allegiance was questioned and denied by their country, but these veterans still chose to serve. The Army leadership in attendance acknowledged the bravery of these men and recognized the soldiers who did not make it home. It was a proud moment for the Taniguchi family, the Japanese American community and the country.

The celebration continued at the Congressional Gold Medal Gala Dinner where there was an energy that filled the room. It was a wonderful culmination of the ceremonies as President Barack Obama congratulated these Japanese American heroes and passed along the country’s gratitude to these dedicated soldiers on behalf of the United States of America.

We shared these special moments with wives, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends who came from all over the country to recognize the heroism of our Dad, Kazuto Taniguchi, 442nd, L Company; Uncle Victor Matsui, MIS; and friends Sam Yokota, 442nd, L Company and Harry Kanada, 442nd, K Company. Our family was honored to be there for these World War II veterans who exemplified what it truly means to be an American and fight for their families and their country. These veterans received a long overdue honor that recognized their loyalty and significant contributions during a time of discrimination.

To be able to accompany our father while he was still alive to receive the CGM was a moment of great pride. Our family never knew the extent of sacrifice and bravery exhibited while fighting for a country who wouldn’t recognize them as American citizens. Despite the advanced age of the Nisei veterans, I was overwhelmed by the number who did attend the Ceremony. I sat with tears in my eyes listening to vets talk about their horrific experiences, recognizing that not one of our Nisei soldiers deserted or participated in treason against the United States. Their legacy of selflessness, honor, and bravery in the face of racism and denial of their American rights should forever be taught and remembered in history.

I was honored to attend the November 2, 2011 CGM Ceremony in Washington DC to receive the medals for my uncles, Frank Mitoshi Wada, E. Co and Ted Teruo Wada, K Co. Masayoshi Tsuida also from San Diego received his CGM with his wife Grace and other family members also attended the ceremony. Photo of Mas, Grace and grandsons. Sadly, Ted Wada passed away May 23, 2015, Mas passed away January 31, 2021, Frank Wada passed away June 14, 2021.

I was the co-chair of the San Diego CGM Ceremony on March 11, 2012 in San Diego. I was at the Capitol for the CGM ceremony on November 2, 2011 and received the CGM for my uncles, Frank Mitoshi Wada and Ted Teruo Wada. After I returned to SD from WA, I talked to several JA organizations in SD and asked for their help to present CGM to eligible veterans living in SD. With the help of the SD JACL, VFW Post 4851 and Japanese American Historical Society of SD, I was able to purchase CGM replicas from the US Mint and present 59 CGM to 442nd and MIS veterans. The CGM ceremony in SD was planned in less than 45 days and we had an overflow attendance of 540. Unfortunately, we were not able to get a group photo of all the recipients. Our photographer did take some photos of individual families.

Since the March 11, 2012 ceremony, I have personally present an additional 22 CGM to families of eligible veterans. I was provided an eligibility list from Jim Yamashita back in 2012 and communicated with him and Terry Shima on making sure I was presenting CGM to eligible veterans/families.

A truly beautiful and emotional ceremony long overdue.

The ceremony was very nice and well deserved for all the vets. Unfortunately my father passed away the year before. He would have felt honored to receive the medal.

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