Maui News

442nd to Receive Congressional Gold Medal

September 22, 2011, 8:26 AM HST
* Updated September 22, 3:38 PM
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By Wendy Osher

US Senator Daniel K. Inouye, pictured in a recent Maui visit. Photo courtesy: UHMC, Dan Kruse.

Members of the famed 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team will be honored collectively with a Congressional Gold Medal at the nation’s capitol.

The unit was comprised almost entirely of individuals of Japanese ancestry who fought at a time when many of their family members were held in internment camps.  Most of the soldiers were from Hawaii and served during World War II.

Nearly seven decades after their heroic deeds and decorated service, the group will be recognized with the nation’s highest civilian award.

The ceremony is set for November 2 at the Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center.  Officials will also honor the Military Intelligence Service with the same award during the upcoming ceremony.

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Members of Hawai’i’s Congressional Delegation voted yesterday in favor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 28, which allows for the use of Emancipation Hall for the ceremony.  The measure was introduced by US Senator Daniel K. Inouye who served on the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

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“We knew that the recognition we were receiving was the result of lost lives and bloodshed,” said Sen. Inouye of the moment when the President signed the recognition.  “We remembered our brothers who did not come home from the war. We were humbled, proud and pleased that the contributions and sacrifices we made in defense of our country were recognized. I am very grateful to this nation for remembering us,” he said.

Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai’i) said the award is a fitting tribute to these veterans and their “unquestioned loyalty.”

“These soldiers faced wartime challenges with honor and dignity not only on the battlefields of Europe, but back home during uncertain times,” said Hirono.  “I look forward to this commemoration that will allow our nation to acknowledge their heroism and sacrifice,” she said.

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Senator Daniel Akaka said he is looking forward to seeing the thousands of Nisei veterans and their families fill Emancipation Hall for the upcoming ceremony.

“The statues of Kamehameha and Lady Freedom will frame the ceremony as these World War II heroes are honored with the Congressional Gold Medal,” he said.

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) added similar sentiment saying the recognition of valor and heroism is “long overdue.”

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