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AARP is proud to sponsor the Smithsonian seven-city tour of the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Japanese American World War II veterans. The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded in 2011 to Japanese American, or Nisei, World War II veterans in recognition of their extraordinary accomplishments.

The tour launched at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans in January and will be at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles from Saturday, May 4th through Sunday, June 9th. The tour will then continue at the de Young Museum in San Francisco from Saturday, June 29th through Sunday, August 4th.

On Saturday, May 11th, admission to the  Japanese American National Museum will be free. In addition, on June 8th, free programs will be held throughout the day during which storyteller Alton Chung will perform his one-man show Heroes which tells the story of the heroic actions of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry Battalion, and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS). The museum will host several programs in conjunction with the exhibit; visit janm.org/americanheroes for full details.

The tour brings the Nisei Congressional Gold Medal to some of the top museums in the country:

  • National World War II Museum, New Orleans—Jan. 12-Feb. 17, 2013
  • Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu—March 9-April 14, 2013
  • Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles—May 4-June 9, 2013
  • de Young Museum, San Francisco—June 29-Aug. 4, 2013
  • Oregon History Museum, Portland, Ore.—Aug. 24-Sept. 29, 2013
  • Chicago History Museum, Chicago—Oct. 19-Dec. 8, 2013
  • Holocaust Museum, Houston—Dec. 26, 2013-Jan. 24, 2014

 

At the conclusion of the tour, the Congressional Gold Medal will be on permanent display in “The Price of Freedom” exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian and the National Veterans Network partnered 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 in the U.S.

The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) veterans by the U.S. Congress Nov. 2, 2011, in recognition of their exceptional service, sacrifice and loyalty to America. The Gold Medal represents Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.

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.

You can learn more about these heroes through the powerful mini-documentary, “Honorable Journey,” featured at the top of this post. Produced by AARP Broadcast and narrated by George Takei, “Honorable Journey” has been accepted in the G.I. Film Festival in Washington, DC (May) and the NY City International Film Festival in June.

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