News Releases

Smithsonian Announces Seven-City Tour of Congressional Gold Medal Awarded to Japanese American World War II Veterans

September 13, 2012

The Congressional Gold Medal awarded in 2011 to Japanese American, or Nisei, World War II veterans in recognition of their extraordinary accomplishments will travel to seven cities across the country beginning in January 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 planned tour will bring 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 medal will be accompanied by an educational package with an iPad application, social-learning website and curriculum developed by the National Veterans Network in partnership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. 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, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service 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. A complete list of recipients is available at House.gov.

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 national tour of the Nisei Congressional Gold Medal is made possible by the support of AARP, Comcast/NBC Universal, Cole Chemical, Southwest Airlines and Pritzker Military Library.

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

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, nine research centers, and numerous educational and cultural programs. To learn more about the collaborating Smithsonian offices involved in this project, visit sites.si.edu, americanhistory.si.edu and apa.si.edu.

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SI-403-2012

Media only
Lindsey Koren
(202) 633-3122

Jennifer Schommer
(202) 633-3121

Related photos: 

Gold Medal: Military ceremony on the Kahului Fair Grounds

Credit: National Archives

Military ceremony on the Kahului Fair Grounds, Maui, Hawaii. Oct. 11, 1047

Lt. Col. Harry G. Albright of the 442nd RCT congratulates Capt. Sadani Katahara of the 442nd, which was reactivated as an organized reserve unit. Looking on are (L-R) Major Henry Kawano and Major Lloyd C. Kaapana.

Related photos: 

Gold Medal: Obverse

Credit: Hugh Talman, Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

The medal's obverse (heads side) design features Nisei (second-generation Americans of Japanese ancestry) Soldiers from both the European and Pacific theaters. The 442nd RCT color guard is depicted in the lower field of the medal. The inscription “Go For Broke” is the motto of the 442nd RCT, and was eventually used to describe the work of all three units. 

Related photos: 

Gold Medal: Reverse

Credit: Hugh Talman, Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

The medal's reverse (tails side) depicts the insignias of the 100th INF BN, 442nd RCT, and MIS. The 100th INF BN insignia features a taro leaf and a traditional Hawaiian helmet, both of which are emblematic of the unit's Hawaiian roots. The "Go for Broke" Torch of Liberty shoulder patch represents the 442nd RCT.



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