Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony Update

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By CHRISTINE SATO-YAMAZAKI, Chairperson, National Veterans Network

The United States Congress has announced that pending passage of a concurrent resolution (con.res.) by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, Congress will award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service in Washington, D.C., during the period Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2011.

The con.res. is expected to be introduced in Congress in early September. When the con.res. passes both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, announcements of the ceremony date and location will be made.

Pending the passage of the concurrent resolution, the United States Capitol has space for 1,250 individuals to attend the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in Washington, D.C. Of the 1,250 individuals, 600 will be seated. Due to limited seating, it is possible the guests of veterans and widows may be separated.

This 1,250 number is based on safety and security concerns by the sergeant at arms. To date, the National Veterans Network has more than 4,100 people who have indicated interest in attending the ceremony. Given the spacing guidelines, the following categories of people will be considered as honorees for this celebration.

• Veteran plus one guest

• Widow plus one guest

• One next of kin of KIA

• One next of kin of a deceased veteran

All remaining family members will be able to watch a live broadcast at the Washington Hilton Hotel, which will serve as hotel headquarters for the Congressional Gold Medal celebration.

For the past two weeks, NVN representatives have been conducting surveys to determine whether registrants are planning to attend the celebration. This survey is being conducted in order to provide the honoree invitation list to Congress for the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony.

In commemoration of the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony, the National Veterans Network will be hosting three events:

• National World War II Memorial event is a 90-minute program to remember the service of all Nisei who served during World War II. This event will take place the day before the congressional ceremony. A special presentation will be made by the Army chief of staff (invited) to present 70 bronze star medals to 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd RCT veterans.

The National World War II Memorial can potentially hold up to 1,500 individuals; therefore, invitations will be extended to the honoree categories mentioned above. All remaining family members are invited to watch a live broadcast of the memorial event at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

• The Congressional Gold Medal Gala Dinner will be held to recognize the Congressional Gold Medal honorees at the Washington Hilton Hotel. NVN invites the veterans, widows, one next of kin of KIA and one next of kin of a deceased veteran to be our special guests at this dinner. All others, including guests of honorees, will be $175 a person.

The dinner will be held in a ballroom that will hold up to 2,500 people, along with an overflow room that will accommodate 1,000 more for a total of 3,500 attendees. The overflow room will have a live broadcast of the dinner and all efforts will be made to ensure that high-level dignitaries visit the room to provide personal greetings.

Priority registration will be given to registered honorees before the registration is opened to the public. NVN will have following categories of honorees seated in the ballroom:

Veteran plus spouse plus one guest

Widow plus on guest

Next of kin of KIA plus one guest

Next of kin of deceased veteran plus one guest

If an honoree would like to be seated with their entire family, an option will be available to be seated together in the overflow room.

• The National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism will be open for attendees to pay respect to the 800 KIA soldiers during World War II. NVN encourages everyone to visit this beautiful memorial dedicated to the Japanese American World War II experience, and to honor the 800 soldiers who gave their lives during World War II. Docents, etchings, flowers and a photographer will be available during the three-day period.

A private ceremony for KIA families will take place on Day 3 of the celebration. This will be an invitation-only event due to the limited capacity of 300 people.

A separate registration website will be open to NVN registrants in early September to coincide with the announcement of the ceremony date. This registration website, which is hosted by PSA, our special events firm, will allow you to sign up for the gala dinner, memorial events, bus passes and to reserve rooms at a discounted rate of $211 at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

A registration link will be posted on the NVN website (www.nationalveteransnetwork.com) once the ceremony date is announced. Please note that this registration website is separate from the NVN National Veterans Registry that was designed to register individuals only for the congressional ceremony.

The registration for the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony closed on Aug. 8 for next of kin of deceased veterans and Aug. 20 for veterans, widows and next of kin of KIA. Anyone who registers after this date has been placed on a waiting list.

We look forward to seeing you at this historic occasion to honor the extraordinary achievements and sacrifices of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service during World War II. Should you have any questions, please either call 1-800-836-6138 or email [email protected] or Terry Shima at [email protected]

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