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Public Statements

Authorizing Use of Emancipation Hall to Award Congressional Gold Medal

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of S. Con. Res. 28, which will allow the use of Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Capitol for a Medal of Honor Ceremony.

During World War II, many members of University of Hawaii's Reserve Officers Training Corps, ROTC, were Nisei, the American-born sons of Japanese immigrants. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, these brave men aided the wounded, buried the fallen, and helped defend vulnerable areas in Hawaii.

Despite their bravery and loyalty to the United States, in January of 1942 the U.S. Army discharged all Nisei in the ROTC unit, deemed them ineligible for service, and segregated all Japanese-Americans out of their military units. Meanwhile, over a hundred thousand Japanese-Americans were forcibly moved from their homes to internment camps. This forced ouster forever changed the lives of these Japanese-Americans, many of whom lost their land and other property.

Nonetheless, members of the Hawaii Provisional Infantry Battalion, made up of Japanese-Americans, joined the 100th Infantry Battalion, also comprised of Japanese-Americans, to train as soldiers. President Roosevelt admired their bravery and determination, and decided to allow Nisei volunteers to serve in the military again, where they were incorporated into the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

Members of the 100th and the 442nd risked their lives to fight for our country and allies in Europe. The 442nd ``Go for Broke'' unit was sent repeatedly to the front lines. The 4,000 men who started in April 1943 needed to be replaced more than three times. The unit became the most decorated in U.S. military history for its size and length of service, with the 100th Infantry Battalion earning the nickname ``The Purple Heart Battalion.'' The 100th and the 442nd received seven Presidential Unit Citations, 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 4,000 Bronze Stars, 22 Legion of Merit Medals, 15 Soldier's Medals, and more than 4,000 Purple Hearts, among numerous additional distinctions. One of these Medal of Honor recipients is Hawaii's own senior Senator, Daniel K. Inouye, the sponsor of today's resolution.

The Army's Military Intelligence Service, MIS, was composed of about 6,000 Japanese-American soldiers who conducted covert intelligence missions, including translating enemy documents, interrogating enemy prisoners of wars, intercepting radio transmissions, and persuading enemy combatants to surrender. The contributions of the MIS have only recently come to light and been publicly acknowledged.

Last year Congress passed and President Obama signed into a law a bill to collectively award the Medal of Honor to Japanese American Veterans of the 442nd Regiment, the 100th Infantry Battalion, and the Military Intelligence Service. It was a distinct honor to be present at the bill signing and meet several of these heroes in person.

Today's resolution allows the use of Emancipation Hall on November 2, 2011 in the U.S. Capitol for a ceremony to present the Medal of Honor to these brave Japanese-American veterans for their service and sacrifice during World War II. Many veterans from Hawaii or their next-of-kin will travel a great distance to attend this ceremony.

I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.

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