CAPAC Members Release Statements on Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony for Japanese-American WWII Veterans

Nov 2, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) issued the following statements honoring Japanese-American veterans of the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service for their dedicated service during World War II. Earlier today, the veterans were collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow. CAPAC Members were joined by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi as well as Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Adam Schiff, the lead co-sponsors for the Gold Medal legislation, to honor the veterans for their service:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA- 32), CAPAC Chair: “Today, our nation honored Japanese-American veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal for their valiant service during World War II.  These brave Americans volunteered to fight for their country and made heroic sacrifices to help our nation win the war abroad even as their loved-ones were imprisoned in internment camps at home.  They battled through prejudice, yet never faltered in their loyalty and dedication to our country, and it is with great pride that we honor these veterans today and thank them for their incredible record of service.”

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (CA-8), House Democratic Leader: “Today's Gold Medal awardees bring honor to the Congress, pride to the country, and luster to this award.  In battle, the Japanese-American veterans proved that they were great fighters; in their service, they proved they were great patriots.  Their cause was not just the end of fascism, but the end of discrimination and the American ideal of equality.  As a representative of San Francisco, it is a point of pride to me that so many of today’s awardees have San Francisco ties. The Japanese-American community enriches our city and is a source of strength to us.  As others have said, the 442nd—the motto of the 442nd was ‘go for broke.’ Today’s Gold Medal awardees were willing to go for broke in the fight against tyranny abroad and, in doing so, fight discrimination here at home.”

Senator Barbara Boxer (CA): “Granting the Congressional Gold Medal is a long overdue honor which recognizes and expresses our utmost appreciation for the dedication of those Japanese-American soldiers who served in the U.S. Army during World War II. While we can never repay the debt that we owe them, we can – and we must – recognize their valor and patriotism. That is what we are doing today.”

Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-29): “Today we award the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor to the “Go For Broke” regiments and the veterans of the Military Intelligence Service for their dedication to our country during World War II,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), lead sponsor of the legislation in the House and son of a WWII veteran.  “These remarkable men left a segregated nation to fight and defend an America with no guarantee that their own freedom would be defended in return.  These American heroes did defend our freedoms and ideals.  Their true heroism lies in how they fought for the values of America – equality, justice, and opportunity – even when those values were denied them at home.  And they paved the way for millions of other Americans to proudly wear the uniform today.”

Senator Daniel Akaka (HI): "Nearly 70 years after these men volunteered to risk their lives in faithful service to a nation that had interned relatives and friends, I was deeply humbled to see many of our surviving Nisei veterans and their families fill Emancipation Hall at the Capitol this morning.  By bestowing this well-deserved honor upon these units, Congress is not only celebrating their heroism and sacrifice, but perpetuating the legacy and courage of these brave soldiers for the next generation of Americans.  I want to offer my congratulations – and most profound gratitude – to my dear friend Dan Inouye, and all members of these units on receiving the nation’s highest civilian honor today."

Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (GU), CAPAC Vice Chair: “I commend the Japanese-American veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service of the United States Army for their dedication and service to our nation during World War II.  During a time when Japanese-Americans were discriminated against in the United States, these servicemembers demonstrated unwavering patriotism on the front lines.  I join my colleagues in honoring their service as they receive the Congressional Gold Medal, and I thank them for their sacrifices for our nation.”

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), CAPAC Whip: “In a time of war, these extraordinary Japanese-American soldiers volunteered to fight for a country that did not fight for them. They faced prejudices at home and abroad, but continued to demonstrate their unwavering loyalty and courage in combat.  These heroes have set the example for our military and our nation to embrace the differences and strengths of all our citizens, and I am pleased they are finally getting the recognition they deserve. As we celebrate these veterans and their families, let us remember their fallen comrades who could not be with us today. We are forever grateful for their sacrifice and service to our country.”

Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15), CAPAC Chair Emeritus: “This week’s Congressional Gold Medal presentation to Japanese American veterans of World War II reminds our nation that our allegiance to our Constitution is utmost and requires maximum protection during times of war and fear. This ceremony has a special meaning to me, as my late father, Giichi ‘Byron’ Honda, served in the U.S. Military Intelligence Service (MIS) as a linguistic specialist during the War, and whose service – along with thousands of Japanese American war heroes from MIS, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team – is being honored this week.  My father volunteered to serve his country in defense of our Constitution while the U.S. government incarcerated his family, including me, behind barbed wire in a Colorado internment camp. I am proud to stand with these brave veterans and their families as the nation pays them the honor that they have so rightly earned.”

Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (AS): “Today we honor the Japanese-American veterans who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service during World War II. We do not take lightly the patriotic legacy of these American heroes, including U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye who was among the bravest of those serving in the 100th/442nd at a time when our nation was at war with Japan. Subjected to racism because of their ancestry, these Japanese-Americans put their lives on the line for America during WWIII, and history is clear that none served more valiantly. Their records are without equal, with the 442nd being the most decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and length of service. On behalf of the people of American Samoa, we count it a privilege to be home to two companies of the renowned 100th/442nd Reserves Unit, and it was my deepest honor to have served in Hawaii with the 100th/442nd from 1982-1989. With humility and pride, I salute the members of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry for their bravery and selfless service, and I join my prayers with yours in wishing them and theirs all that is good and praiseworthy.”

Congressman Bob Filner (CA-51): “It has been a long time coming that we recognize these heroes who went above and beyond, fighting for their country at a time in our history when Japanese-Americans were being put in internment camps.  The heroism of the Japanese-Americans who fought in World War II cannot be overstated.”

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (HI-02): “It was powerful to be in the presence of the Nisei World War II veterans honored at today’s Congressional Gold Medal ceremony. We must never forget these Japanese American heroes for their service, sacrifice, and unquestioned loyalty. Once distrusted and even feared in America, Nisei soldiers fought and died for our country in Europe. Yet, their courage was not recognized back home, where family members were removed from the lives they had built and kept behind barbed wire fences in internment camps. Through their “Go for Broke” fighting spirit, these veterans persevered against outright discrimination to become some of the most decorated military servicemembers in our nation’s history. This is why the Nisei warriors deserve to receive one of our nation’s highest honors.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-09): “I would like to congratulate and express my gratitude to the thousands of Japanese American veterans who served our country so honorably during WWII, even as their families and friends were being rounded up into internment camps. Commemorating their sacrifice in the face of such harsh and discriminatory treatment is long overdue. At a time when our nation fell far short of our American ideals, these patriotic Americans served their country and they should be recognized and honored.” 

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-05): “These American heroes are at long last being honored for their unwavering loyalty and service to the United States – keeping us safe even as the country misjudged and mistreated their friends and families. These men may have never asked for anything in exchange for their service, but they certainly deserve this honor for all they endured during WWII.  This recognition is also an important reminder that we must continue to remember and honor those who have served or are currently serving to help protect all Americans, regardless of color, class or creed.”
Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-11): “The men and women being honored today are true heroes.  Even while other Japanese Americans were being sent to Internment camps, they selflessly enlisted in the Army to serve our country. Their sacrifice is finally being given the recognition it deserves.”

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34): “I am pleased to join our country in extending my most heartfelt congratulations to the Nisei veterans of the 110th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service. Not only did the men of the GO FOR BROKE regiment serve the country with distinction and loyalty, but for many of them, they did so while their families and friends were unjustly incarcerated and living in harsh conditions. While receiving the Congressional Gold Medal is truly significant, it is but a small token of appreciation for the courageous service to a grateful nation. I am honored that the Go For Broke memorial is located in Little Tokyo in my Los Angeles district, and I look forward to the construction of the new Go For Broke National Education Center adjacent to it.”

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (CA-06): “At a time when our nation faced the challenge of both external military foes and internal prejudice, Japanese Americans from the highly decorated 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team demonstrated the best of American bravery, resilience, and patriotism.  Their willingness not only to serve our nation, but to sacrifice everything while they and their families were banished to internment camps, deserves a special honor.  Two of the recipients of this medal, Asa Hana¬moto and Frank Yamamoto, are residents of California’s Sixth District, and I am extremely proud to have such heroes (both from Mill Valley) recognized for their tremendous service to our country.”

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently Chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.