Smithsonian Tour of Congressional Gold Medal Awarded to Japanese American World War II Veterans Kicks Off This Month in New Orleans

January 4, 2013
News Release
Nisei Congressional Gold Medal

Note: As part of the opening weekend festivities for the new U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, the Smithsonian, together with the National Veterans Network, will hold a special program honoring Nisei veterans in the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion at the National World War II Museum Saturday, Jan. 12, at noon. RSVP to

The Congressional Gold Medal awarded in 2011 to Japanese American, or Nisei, World War II veterans in recognition of their extraordinary accomplishments will begin its tour across the country, beginning with the National World War II Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, in New Orleans. The medal will debut there during a special weekend of opening festivities for the new U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, Jan. 12, and will remain on view through Feb. 17, before continuing on to six other cities in 2013. The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) has partnered with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the National Veterans Network 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 back in the U.S.

The medal will be accompanied by an iPad application, social-learning website and curriculum available at This educational package, available Jan. 12, was developed by the National Veterans Network in partnership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Centered 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 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. The Gold Medal represents Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. A complete list of recipients is available at

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.

After New Orleans, the tour will bring the Nisei Congressional Gold Medal to more top museums in the country, including the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu, the Japanese American National Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Los Angeles, the De Young Museum in San Francisco, the Oregon History Museum in Portland, the Chicago History Museum in Chicago and the Holocaust Museum in Houston. 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, D.C.

“American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal” is made possible by the support of AARP, Cole Chemical, Comcast/NBC Universal, the Japanese American Veterans Association, Pritzker Military Library, the Shiratsuki Family and Southwest Airlines.

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, and

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Jennifer Schommer

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