COLUMBUS, Ga. – The parade field adjacent to the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Ga. will be named for the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
The parade field is the site of all U.S. Army Infantry basic training graduations. Nearly 18,000 new infantrymen will march across the field in parades marking their successful completion of basic training this year.
A World War II veteran, Inouye enlisted shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor and served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in combat near San Terenzo, Italy, in April 1945, which was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor. He lost an arm as a result of injuries he suffered during the battle.
The ceremony is being conducted in conjunction with the graduation of two infantry basic training companies.
During the ceremony, soil from San Terenzo will be sprinkled on the field. When the parade field was first used in 2009, soil from nine battlegrounds was sprinkled on the field by veterans of those battles or their descendants. Some of the soil was also preserved in glass containers and sealed in granite pavers at the edge of the field. As the new infantry soldiers graduate and pass in review each week at the field, they march on soil where their infantry forefathers fought.
Inouye represented Hawaii as the state’s first congressman from 1954 to 1959. He went on to serve in the Senate from 1963 until his death at the age of 88 in December 2012. At the time of his death he was the Senate pro tempore (the chamber’s longest-serving senator and third in line to the presidency) and chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee.
In 2000, Inouye and 21 other Asian American veterans were belatedly presented Medals of Honor after their records were reviewed to determine if they had been denied the award because of racial bias.
The soldiers who filled the ranks of the 442nd and its sister battalion, the 100th Infantry Battalion, were Americans of Japanese ancestry. Many of them had family members who were being held in internment facilities because of their race after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the relocation of 122,000 men, women and children of Japanese ancestry to ten relocation centers. Nearly 70,000 of those affected were American citizens.
The mission of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center is to provide education and training to soldiers, families, and the general public on all facets of the history of the United States Infantry, the origin and development of Fort Benning, and an overview of the U.S. Army.
The public is invited to attend the graduation ceremony and dedication of Inouye Field. Seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis. For more information, email [email protected] or call (706) 653-9234.