Yesterday, President Barack Obama honoured the 442nd Regimental Combat Team — a regiment that fought in World War II and that was made up primarily of nisei Japanese Americans — by signing legislation granting the the Congressional Gold Medal. According to Wikipedia, the Congressional Gold Medal “is, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Presidential Citizens Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States. The decoration is awarded to an individual who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States.”
Despite the fact that Japanese Americans living along the West Coast were systematically targeted and interned by the federal government following Pearl Harbour, the members of the 442nd distinguished themselves in battle with astounding courage and bravery. The 442nd remains the most-decorated regiment in American military history.
It’s really heartening to see President Obama and the members of Congress recognize the many Japanese Americans who served in the 442nd for their incredible, and inspiring, service. If only more average Americans could be made aware of the unique contributions made by folks like the veterans who served in the 442nd Regiment.