President Harry S. Truman with other dignitaries during his review of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team on July 15, 1946, in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration)


On July 15, at 12 noon, the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) will commemorate the triumphant return of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team from the bloody battlefields in Europe to Washington, D.C.

Seventy-six years earlier, on July 15, 1946, President Harry S. Truman received the military unit at 12 noon at the Ellipse, which is the outer south lawn of the White House, following its march down Constitution Avenue on a rainy day. The president presented the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team with its seventh Presidential Unit Citation earned since its activation in 1943. This military unit, except for its initial officers, was a segregated all-Japanese American combat unit.

During the ceremony, President Truman said: “You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice – and you have won. Keep up that fight, and we will continue to win – to make this great republic stand for just what the Constitution says it stands for: the welfare of all the people all the time.”

In 1943, Japanese Americans were asked by the federal government to declare whether or not they were loyal to America. Those who answered yes showed that they were willing to fulfill their civic responsibilities as American citizens by serving in the U.S. military and, more importantly, that they still believed in the American dream that brought their Issei parents to this country.

They made this decision under the most adverse circumstances. Most were being unjustly imprisoned in War Relocation Authority confinement camps, and all faced widespread overt political and racial “prejudice at home” against persons of Japanese ancestry that predated the war against Japan.

For those who served in Europe, this decision tested their courage on the battlefield. They responded with a valor that is still unmatched in terms of their military accomplishments. Those who served in the Pacific significantly contributed to shortening the war against Japan and saving countless American lives.

President Truman affirmed that the decision made by the Nisei soldiers is the way to win the war against prejudice and to support the Constitution and what it stands for. The war against prejudice still continues as shown by current events. But, the battle against prejudice that the Nisei soldiers won by choosing to keep their faith in America was the critical turning point in our history to defeat prejudice against persons of Japanese ancestry and the foundation upon which Japanese Americans started to benefit and will continue to benefit in the future.

At 12 noon (East Coast time) on July 15, JAVA will lay a wreath at the Price of Freedom Wall, National World War II Memorial, to show our appreciation for the legacy created by the 33,000 Japanese American men and women who served in World War II.

The military escort and wreath bearers for the Day of Affirmation ceremony will represent three generations of Terry Shima’s family. Terry is a veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this year. The military escort is Terry’s son Mike Shima, who will be assisted by his son Eric Shima. Following his father’s legacy of service, Mike served in the U.S. Army.

One of the wreath bearers will be Eileen Shima Roulier, who is Terry’s daughter. The other wreath bearer will be Mike’s daughter, Kelly Shima, who will be assisted by her son, Donovan Trexler.

The Day of Affirmation will be livestreamed via Facebook on July 15 at 12 noon (EST). To watch, please visit the JAVA Facebook page at

On Sunday, July 16, JAVA will host a Day of Affirmation luncheon at The Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C. The featured speaker will be Landon Grove, director and curator of the Ritchie Museum, who will share the fascinating history of Camp Ritchie.

Camp Ritchie is where U.S. soldiers were trained in German, Italian, and French to decode enemy communications and interrogate prisoners of war captured in Europe. One class of the Nisei Military Intelligence Service was also trained at Camp Ritchie. While there, a mural featuring Japanese Americans is believed to have been painted by Nisei solder Nobuo Kitagaki.

Tickets may be purchased at

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