American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal

Nearly seven decades after the beginning of World War II, the Congressional Gold Medal – the nation’s highest civilian award – was bestowed collectively on the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) for their extraordinary accomplishments in the war. 

The men in these units, comprised almost entirely of persons of Japanese ancestry, fought with bravery and valor against America’s enemies on the battlefields in Europe and Asia, even while many of their parents and other family members were held in internment camps. 

The National Veterans Network has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program to share this extraordinary story during an exclusive seven-city tour, including its last stop at Holocaust Museum Houston.

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 Congressional Gold Medal and accompanying educational app will highlight the Japanese American World War II soldiers  with their stories of courage, respect, humility, perseverance, compassion and citizenship. Share your own stories or the stories of people who inspire you by visiting "The Congressional Gold Medal Experience" at cgm.si.edu, as developed by the National Veterans Network in partnership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

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, DC.

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.eduamericanhistory.si.edu and apa.si.edu.

The national tour of "American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal"  is made possible by the support of lead sponsor Cole Chemical, AARP, Comcast/NBC Universal, the Japanese American Veterans Association, Pritzker Military Library, the Shiratsuki Family, Southwest Airlines and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund.

December 19, 2013 — January 26, 2014

M: Closed
T-Sa: 10 am to 5 pm
Su: Noon to 5 pm

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A special thanks to our sponsors

Lead Sponsors
Cole Chemical
Comcast/NBC Universal
Japanese American Veterans Association
Pritzker Military Library
Shiratsuki Family
Southwest Airlines
Spirit Mountain Community Fund
Corporate Community Partners
Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore Blvd., Houston, TX 77004
CenterPoint Energy
Donna Cole
Green Bank
Kathleen and Glen Gondo
Japan-America Society of Houston
Japanese American Citizens League Houston