President Obama met four Nisei at the Blue Room of the White House on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2011, to congratulate them on their role in the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Nisei units of World War II. From left: Minoru Nagaoka (442nd), Victor Matsui (MIS), President Obama, Kelly Kuwayama (442nd) and Terry Shima (442nd). (White House photo)

The Congressional Gold Medal awarded in 2011 to Nisei World War II veterans in recognition of their extraordinary accomplishments will be on view at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles from May 4 to June 9.

The Congressional Gold Medal was presented to the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service at the U.S. Capitol in November 2011. Veterans of these units have received bronze replicas of the medal. (Rafu Shimpo photo)

The medal is on a national tour of seven cities in 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 medal is accompanied by an iPad application, social-learning website and curriculum available at This educational package was developed by the National Veterans Network in partnership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. 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, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service veterans by Congress on Nov. 2, 2011, in recognition of their exceptional service, sacrifice and loyalty to America. The medal represents Congress’ highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. A complete list of recipients is available at

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 Congressional Gold Medal will come to JANM, a Smithsonian affiliate in Los Angeles, following its presentation in New Orleans and at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. The tour will then continue from Los Angeles to other top museums in the country, including the De Young Museum in San Francisco, the Oregon History Museum in Portland, the Chicago History Museum in Chicago, and the Holocaust Museum in Houston. At the conclusion of the tour, the medal will be on permanent display in an exhibition titled “The Price of Freedom” at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

The Los Angeles presentation includes a month-long public programs series at JANM:

“Twice Heroes: America’s Nisei Veterans of WWII and Korea” by Tom Graves
Saturday, May 4 • 2 p.m.

Target Free Family Saturday: “Picture This!”
Saturday, May 11 • 11 a.m.-4 p.m. • Free admission all day

“Nisei Servicewomen in World War II”
Saturday, May 18 • 2 p.m.

Film screening of “MIS: Human Secret Weapon”
Saturday, May 25 • 12 and 2 p.m.

Film screening of “A Flicker in Eternity” by Sharon Yamato
Saturday, June 1 • 2 and 3 p.m.

Film Screening of “Go For Broke!”
Sunday, June 2 • 12 and 2 p.m.

“Heroes,” performance by Alton Chung
Saturday, June 8 • free • 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.

Check for details.

“American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal” is made possible by the support of AARP, Cole Chemical, Comcast/NBC Universal, the Japanese American Veterans Association, Pritzker Military Library, the Shiratsuki family and Southwest Airlines.

The National Veterans Network is a coalition of Japanese American veteran and civic organizations representing eight regions in the U.S. 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.

The Los Angeles presentation is made possible by regional sponsor Union Bank and organized by the Southern California Community Committee for the American Heroes exhibition: 100/442nd Veterans Association, Go For Broke National Education Center, Japanese American Citizens League-Pacific Southwest District, Japanese American National Museum, Military Intelligence Service Club of Southern California, and Veterans Memorial Court Alliance. The Los Angeles media sponsors are LA 18 KSCI TV and The Rafu Shimpo.

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