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Long Overdue Honor


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During a recent ceremony in Blackfoot, I was honored to present two Idaho veteranswith the Congressional Gold Medal for their distinguished service to our nation during World War II. The medals were long overdue for Kazuo Endow, of Blackfoot, and Agie Harada, of Shelley, who were unable to attend the presentation in Washington, D.C., last year where their fellow members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team collectively received the medal. Visiting with these two inspiring Idahoans was a reminder of the many outstanding individuals who call our great state home.

Kazuo Endow, a graduate of Pocatello High School, joined the service in 1941 and served in France and Italy. He earned the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. Until his retirement, Kazuo farmed in Blackfoot. Agie Harada, who was born in Grant, Idaho and graduated from Ucon High School, joined the service in 1944 and he served in France, England and Italy. Agie's honors for his service include the Bronze Star and two Presidential Unit Citations. After the war, Agie farmed and worked for 18 years as a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector.

The Congressional Gold Medal is considered one of the highest recognitions that Congress confers and requires approval of both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. On November 2, 2011, in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, the Congressional Gold Medal was presented collectively to the U.S. Army's 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service. These units of Japanese American soldiers served with distinction, with the 442nd becoming the most decorated unit of its size and length of service in U.S. military history. In recognition of the tremendous service those soldiers provided while facing enemies abroad and discrimination at home, I co-sponsored the Senate legislation that authorized the medal and supported this long overdue recognition. Individuals from Idaho traveled to Washington, D.C. to accept their medals. The Idahoans who received the medal include the following:

Kazuo Endow of Blackfoot
Roy Gikiu of Twin Falls
Agie Harada of Shelley
Harry Kawahara of Caldwell
George Koyama of Nampa
Jack Ogami of Weiser
Noel Okamoto of Boise
Gorge Shigeta of Nampa
Hero Shiosaki of Blackfoot
Jun Shiosaki of Blackfoot
Jack Tominaga of Blackfoot.
Sam Yokota of Pocatello

It is remarkable that these Americans of Japanese ancestry were considered "enemy aliens" yet volunteered to defend the U.S. and did so with great distinction. Being in the presence of these men who served our country so honorably was humbling. I am grateful for the many men and women and their families who have and currently serve to protect our freedoms.

Idaho is blessed with outstanding veterans descended from many nationalities in our communities. Many of us have family members and friends who have served. We have so much to learn from our nation's veterans. I encourage people to take part in theVeterans History Project housed in the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center. We need to record the histories of World War II veterans before their generation passes away. I recorded the histories of three Idahoans. The experience reinforced my love of our country and the many brave men and women who serve to protect it.

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