San Jose, CA – Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), along with Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) and Mike Honda (D-Campbell), today awarded the Congressional Gold Medal—the nation's highest civilian award—to 147 veterans of the U.S. Army's 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service. In addition to the veterans' acts of bravery, the Congressional Gold Medal honors their dedicated and courageous service to the United States in the face of injustice as Americans of Japanese descent interned in relocation camps following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
"These brave Americans, faced with the injustice of being imprisoned because of their Japanese ancestry, answered discrimination with courageous service and valor for their country," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren. "Today, a grateful nation has the opportunity to honor and thank these veterans with the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States. Let it serve to remind us of the sacrifices they made to protect our freedom, and to be proud of their heroism which not only helped save America in World War II but also broke down barriers of prejudice, making our country a 'more perfect union'."
The Congressional Gold Medal, bestowed by Congress, is the highest civilian award for an individual or unit who performs an outstanding deed or act of service for the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States. The first recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal was George Washington in 1776, and the 145 individuals and units honored since include the Tuskegee Airmen, the Navaho Codetalkers, Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh and the Wright Brothers. Today's ceremony in San Jose's Japantown was held for veterans and family members unable to attend the November 2, 2011 ceremony in Washington, DC.