Celebrating Our Heritage and Our Hope
On Saturday, I was honored to attend the opening celebration of an exhibit highlighting the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the Nisei (Second Generation Japanese-Americans) veterans of World War II at the de Young Museum.
With this exhibit, "American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal," we continue to pay tribute to heroes and veterans of the Greatest Generation who were willing to pay any price and bear any burden to fight tyranny and secure our future. It is fitting that their motto, as inscribed on the Gold Medal, is "Go for Broke." The Gold Medal awardees were willing to "go for broke" -- fighting for freedom abroad and against discrimination here at home, even in the face of injustice of internment. Even in the age of racism and prejudice, endless Japanese-Americans endured brutality in their own communities. These brave men in uniform rose above feeling embittered. Instead, they felt compelled to demonstrate their love of country and their loyalty to the cause of democracy.
Simply put, the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service saved American lives. Across the Atlantic, they faced deadly combat in Italy, France, and Germany. In the Pacific, they interpreted radio transmissions, translated enemy documents and interrogated prisoners of war. Some gave what President Lincoln once called the "last full measure of devotion," never to return to their homes again. All through, they were great fighters; all through, they were great patriots. All recognized the task in their mission wasn't simply the end of fascism, but also the end of discrimination here at home. All embraced and all advanced the American ideal of equality, our heritage and our hope.
This weekend, we have another opportunity to honor these values as we commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence with the celebration of the Fourth of July. Let us take this weekend to commemorate our past and honor our Founding Fathers, our veterans, and our service men and women. Let their example continue to be an inspiration.
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