Nisei Week to Highlight Gold Medal Awardees

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The Nisei Week Foundation announced on July 21 that the 2011 Nisei Week Japanese Festival will spotlight the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given by the U.S. Congress, to the segregated Japanese American units of World War II.

The recognition will kick off at a community celebration on Sunday, Aug. 14, from 2:15 to 2:45 p.m. at the JACCC Plaza, 244 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles. The public is encouraged to attend this important event, which is the first Los Angeles tribute in recognition of this national award. Following that, the Nisei veterans will be honored during the Nisei Week Grand Parade, which begins at 5:30 pm and winds through First and Second streets in Little Tokyo.

“The Nisei veterans are always a beloved part of our parade, and this year we’re excited to be turning it up a notch as we recognize the passage of U.S. Senate Bill 1055, which commends these humble men for their extraordinary service to our country,” said Rev. Mark M. Nakagawa, 2011 Nisei Week Foundation president.

“Nisei Week is an opportunity to raise awareness in our community about the historic ceremony that is being planned in Washington, D.C., to honor our Nisei veterans, and we are excited to be working with the Go for Broke National Education Center, 100th/442nd Veterans Association, and the MIS Club of Southern California to highlight this important event,” continued Nakagawa.

SB 1055, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in October 2010, calls upon the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service. Due to the advanced age of the recipients, efforts are being made to fast-track an awards ceremony with the hope that it can be held in late fall 2011.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena) introduced the House version of the bill, which recognized the service of the 100th/442nd, stating that he could not imagine a group more deserving of this highest congressional honor. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced the Senate version, which added recognition of the MIS.

“Similar to HR 442, which was signed into law by President Reagan in 1988 and provided restitution for the incarceration of Japanese American citizens, SB 1055 is a final validation of the significant role the Nisei veterans played in World War II,” the foundation said.

The annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival, which is observing its 71st anniversary, will be held from Aug. 13-21. For more information, go to www.niseiweek.org.

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