The National Museum of American History will host an unveiling ceremony marking the return of the Nisei Soldier Congressional Gold Medal to Washington, D.C., after its seven-city national tour in 2013. The ceremony, held to commemorate the Day of Remembrance, will take place Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 10 a.m. on the third floor in the east wing of the museum. Following the unveiling, World War II veterans, community leaders and scholars will participate in a panel discussion from 11 a.m. to noon in the Warner Bros. Theater. Both events are free and open to the public.
In addition, the museum is partnering with the Japanese American Citizens League and the National Association of Broadcasters to co-sponsor an offsite performance of an excerpt from Jeanne Sakata’s one-man play “HOLD THESE TRUTHS”. The play details Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee Gordon Hirabayashi’s legal challenge of the Japanese American imprisonment during World War II and celebrates this lesser-known civil rights hero’s pursuit of justice. A discussion will follow the performance. For more information, visit http://jacl.org.
The Day of Remembrance observes the 1942 signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt that led to the imprisonment of 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II.
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. It will be displayed from Feb. 19 to June 1 on the third floor in the east wing of the museum. Later this year, when a space has been constructed, the medal will be on display in the “Price of Freedom” exhibition.
Made possible by a partnership between the National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the National Veterans Network, the display and tour of the Congressional Gold Medal reflect an effort 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.
The display is accompanied by a social-learning website and curriculum available at cgm.si.edu. This educational package was developed by the National Veterans Network in partnership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Focused 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 national tour of “American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal” was made possible by the support of lead sponsor Cole Chemical and additional support from AARP, Comcast/NBC Universal, the Japanese American Veterans Association, Pritzker Military Library, the Shiratsuki Family, Southwest Airlines and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund.
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.
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. The museum helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. It is currently renovating its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on business, democracy and culture. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free.