Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, President Roosevelt issued an executive order which resulted in the removal and imprisonment of over 110,000 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 incarceration 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 the most decorated unit of its size in U.S. military history.
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 distinguished Americans, 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.