Board Member’s Message
by Chip Larouche
The Congressional Gold Medal is a reality!
On October 5, 2010, President Obama signed a bill authorizing the award a Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service, to honor the predominantly Nisei units for their service during World War II. Floyd Mori, the executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League, was among the small group who joined President Obama for the intimate signing.
“I became very emotional, because there were only 15 of us there, with the President in the Oval Office,” Mori said. “He greeted each one of us and made some very nice comments, about things like being from Hawaii and being close to some of the families of some of the veterans. He also said that we stand today on the shoulders of those soldiers who served us.” Mori explained that the visitors surrounded the presidential desk and that President Obama–as is customary–used several pens to put his name to the document.
Now that the bill has been signed, planning has started for the presentation ceremony that will be held next year, either in the summer or fall. The medal design is being worked on and will be produced by the U.S. Mint. Replicas of the medal will be available for sale to veterans, their families and the general public. As part of the planning process, data on veterans who served in the 100th, the 442nd, and the MIS is being collected as well as information about next of kin for those veterans who are deceased, as well as information about family members who may accompany the veterans to the ceremony. It is hoped that a large contingent from the Pacific Northwest will be able to attend the festivities in Washington, D.C. when the Congressional Gold Medal is presented to the predominantly Nikkei units of the 100th, the 442nd and the MIS.
For all veterans from the 100th, the 442nd and the MIS and their next of kin, please find in this newsletter, a letter from the Oregon Nisei Veterans and an information collection sheet that can be filled out by any veteran of those units or anyone who knows of a veteran who served in those units. Incomplete data is acceptable and can be sent to the email or the postal address that is included in the letter. This is a wonderful recognition for such decorated units and the board of Portland JACL joins me in congratulating all veterans who have served in these units during the World War II timeframe.
On a related note, Setsy and I went to visit the Nisei Veterans Committee Memorial Hall in Seattle. We were given a tour of the facility by Yuzo Tokita (pictured below) who is a former Commander of the Seattle Nisei Veterans and an Air Force F-4 fighter pilot who served in Vietnam. We spent almost two hours visiting the newly renovated Memorial Hall as well as the Memorial Wall located just outside the facility which honors over 100 years of service of veterans and their families from the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Nisei Veterans are also engaged in contacting all of the 100th, 442nd and MIS veterans in their area concerning the Congressional Gold Medal that will be awarded next year.
Spearheading the effort here in Portland is Setsy Sadamoto Larouche, representing both Portland JACL and the Oregon Nisei Veterans, and Mari Watanabe from the Oregon Nikkei Endowment who is on the National Steering Committee for the Congressional Gold Medal planning.
And lastly, speaking of planning, the Mochitsuki Committee is hard at work putting together the best Mochitsuki Festival ever! Note the save the date flyer included in the newsletter and please make plans to come to the Mochitsuki celebration at the Scottish Rite center for the New Year on Sunday, January 30, 2011!