After the shocking Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, President Roosevelt issued an executive order which resulted in the removal and internment of over 120,000 ethnic Japanese in camps through the western U.S. Almost two-thirds of those incarcerated were U.S. citizens of Japanese descent.

In spite of this forced internment and rampant wartime prejudice, more than 33,000 second-generation Japanese Americans (nisei) volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. Of those, 19,000 served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service, where they proved their loyalty to America and became some of the most decorated units in World War II.

Over 65 years after the end of the War, Congress officially recognized the heroic wartime contributions of these units in the face of official injustice and wide-spread harassment.  In 2010 a bill awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the United States and has been awarded to heroes such as President George Washington, surviving veterans of the Civil War, Native American code talkers, the Tuskegee Airmen, Rosa Parks, the Apollo 11 astronauts and Simon Wiesenthal.

Along with our partners, the National Veterans Network (NVN), the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC), SITES presents the national tour of American Heroes:  Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal to select host venues. The display includes panels describing the recipient units and the history and design of the medal.  In addition, the medal is accompanied by an iPad application, a social-learning website and curriculum developed by NVN and APAC. Centered on the character values associated with Japanese American veterans: courage, respect, humility, perseverance, compassion and citizenship—these materials engage visitors and provide a platform for conversations about interpretations of these values and examples of them in today’s world.

The social learning website, which includes an iPad application and curriculum developed by the National Veteran’s Network and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, is available at cgm.si.edu.


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Exhibition specifications

Contents Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service, panels describing the recipient units and medal in secured display case
Supplemental iPad application, social-learning website
Category History & Culture
SITES Contacts Ed Liskey, 202.633.3142 (Scheduling)
Katherine Krile, 202.633.3108 (Content)
Tour through January 2014: FULLY BOOKED
   
 
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Tour itinerary

Opening Closing Host Institution Status
01/12/13-02/17/13   

The National WWII Museum, Inc., New Orleans, LA

Booked
03/09/13-04/14/13 Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum,
Honolulu, HI
Booked
05/04/13-06/09/13

Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, CA

Booked
06/29/13-08/04/13

de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA

Booked
08/24/13-09/29/13

Oregon Historical Society, Portland, OR

Booked
10/19/13-12/08/13

Chicago History Museum, Chicago, IL

Booked
12/19/13-01/26/14

Holocaust Museum Houston,
Houston, TX

Booked
     
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Press Release

Media only:  Lindsey Koren 202.633.3122; Jennifer Schommer 202.633.3121
Media website: http://newsdesk.si.edu

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

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 February 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. 19, 2013-Jan. 26, 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 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, 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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EXPLORE & LEARN

» Exhibition Specs

Press Release

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

Smithsonian American History Museum

Social Learning Website

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