Japanese American National Museum
Past Exhibitions

American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal

May 4 - June 9, 2013

Nearly seven decades after the beginning of World War II, the Congressional Gold Medal—the nation’s highest civilian award—was bestowed collectively on the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service for their extraordinary accomplishments in the war. The men in these units, comprised almost entirely of persons of Japanese ancestry, fought with bravery and valor against America’s enemies on the battlefields in Europe and Asia, even while many of their parents and other family members were held in internment camps.

The National Veterans Network has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program to share this extraordinary story during an exclusive seven-city tour. The Congressional Gold Medal and accompanying educational app will highlight the stories of these important and honored Americans.

For more information about the Congressional Gold Medal, learning resources, or to share your story, visit

Click here for a list of related public programs >>

For press inquiries, e-mail or call 213.625.0414.


The national tour of American Heroes is made possible by:


Regional Sponsor: Union Bank

The Los Angeles presentation is organized by the Southern California Community Committee for the American Heroes exhibition: 100/442nd Veterans Association, Go For Broke National Education Center, Japanese American Citizens League—Pacific Southwest District, Japanese American National Museum, Military Intelligence Service Club of Southern California, and Veterans Memorial Court Alliance.

Media Sponsors (Los Angeles):

Past Events

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Display Closing

events/cgm_1.jpg American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal closes.

Saturday, June 8, 2013
11:30 AM

Heroes by Alton Chung


Free! Programs will be held at 11:30AM, 1:30PM, and 3PM.

Storyteller Alton Chung will perform his one-man show Heroes which tells the story of the heroic actions of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry Battalion, and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS).

This program is generously sponsored by the Kazuo and Mary Yamane Family Foundation.

Photo by Reid Shimabukuro

Sunday, June 2, 2013
12:00 PM

Go For Broke!

events/goforbroke.jpg Screenings will be held at 12PM and 2PM.

Originally released by MGM in 1951, Go For Broke! tells the story of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Join us for a viewing of this classic film.

Saturday, June 1, 2013
2:00 PM

A Flicker in Eternity by Sharon Yamato, Ann Kaneko, and Joanne Oppenheim


Screenings will be held at 2PM and 3PM.:

This documentary tells the true World War II story of Stanley Hayami, a talented young teenager caught between his dreams of becoming an artist and his duty to his country. Based on Stanley’s diary and letters archived at the Japanese American National Museum, this coming-of-age tale chronicles Stanley’s life behind barbed wire and as a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The film captures this young man’s humor and imagination through endearing cartoons and witty observations that provide a firsthand look at the indignity of incarceration and the tragedy of war.

Q&A with filmmaker and family to follow 3PM screening.

Co-directors: Ann Kaneko and Sharon Yamato
Producer/Writer: Joanne Oppenheim
Special Guest: Dawn Hayami

View the online collection guide for the Stanley Hayami Diary in JANM’s archives >>

Saturday, May 25, 2013
12:00 PM

MIS: Human Secret Weapon


Screenings to be held at 12PM and 2PM.

Composed of Japanese American soldiers who were trained as linguists, the MIS were essential in helping the U.S. achieve victory in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Many of the soldiers fighting and translating on the frontlines were Nisei who had previously been incarcerated with their families in U.S. concentration camps.

Q&A with MIS veteran Hitoshi Sameshima to follow 2PM screening.

Purchase the DVD from the Museum Store >>

Saturday, May 18, 2013
2:00 PM

Nisei Servicewomen in World War II


Former U.S. Cadet Nurse Aiko "Grace" Obata Amemiya will speak about her experiences serving in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II. Born and raised in Northern California, Grace was student at the University of California School of Nursing when the U.S. declared war on Japan. Like over 110,000 other Japanese Americans, Grace and her family were forcibly removed from their home and incarcerated at the Turlock Assembly Center and later at the Gila River Relocation Center. She continued to work as a nurse's aide at both Turlock and Gila River.

In February 1943, Grace was able to leave camp and continue her nursing studies at St. Mary's University in Rochester, Minnesota. She was then able to enlist in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps and served proudly for six months at Shick General Army Hospital in Clinton, Iowa. Ms. Amemiya will speak about her service in this very special program.

Learn about Nisei Cadet Nurses in Nisei Cadet Nurse: Patriotism in Spite of Prejudice which tells the story of 19 Japanese American women. Purchase Nisei Cadet Nurse from the Museum Store >>

Saturday, May 11, 2013
11:00 AM—4:00 PM

Target Free Family Saturday: Picture This!

events/Target_05__75__PMS186_11.JPG Celebrate the openings of American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal and Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter at this very fun and educational Target Day!

• Create a self-portrait that’s totally you!
• Have your portrait taken and make a customized picture frame for it!
• Mark your spot in history on our community timeline! In collaboration with JACL-PSW.
• Ruthie’s Origami Corner: Make a Mother’s Day card!
• Wall of thanks - All veterans are invited to have their photograph taken to be displayed so we can give a big JANM Family Day thanks!

11AM: Doors open

11AM-2PM: Kidding Around the Kitchen will help you make a self-portrait fruit face!

12PM-2PM: Drop by and meet a member of the 442nd, 100th, or M.I.S.! They will be signing baseball-style cards of themselves for you to take home!

12PM-3PM: Let the Cartoon Slinger draw a fun caricature portrait of you! For children only, line ends at 2:30PM.

1PM-4PM: Learn more about the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team and support our troops with author Stacey Hayashi! Stacey is the author of the comic book Journey of Heroes: The Story of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Activities will include:
• Write letters to soldiers stationed abroad and let them know how thankful you are for their service!
Journey of Heroes coloring activity
• Take your photo with characters from Journey of Heroes!

1:30PM-3PM: Say thank you to Japanese American Korean War and Japanese American Vietnam War Veterans in person!

2PM: Author Ken Mochizuki will read his book Heroes. More about Heroes: Set during the '60s with the Vietnam war going on and World War II popular in the media, Japanese American Donnie Okada always has to be the "bad guy" when he and his friends play war because he looks like the enemy portrayed in the media. When he finally has had enough, Donnie enlists the aid of his 442nd veteran father and Korean War veteran uncle to prove to his friends and schoolmates that those of Asian descent did serve in the U.S. military.

2:30PM: Take a tour of Portraiture Now with Smithsonian exhibition curator David Ward.

4PM: Doors close

Generously sponsored by Target, these special Saturdays are filled with fun activities giving families unique ways to learn, play, and grow together.
Saturday, May 4, 2013
12:00 PM

Display Opening

events/cgm.jpg American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal opens to the public after 12PM.

Saturday, May 4, 2013
2:00 PM

Twice Heroes: America’s Nisei Veterans of WWII and Korea by Tom Graves


Writer and photographer Tom Graves will discuss and read from his new book, Twice Heroes: America's Nisei Veterans of WWII and Korea. Graves spent over a decade interviewing and photographing men and women who served to prove their loyalty to America. The veterans shared their own histories with the author, many revealing their experiences for the first time. Q&A with author to follow.

Purchase the book from the Museum Store Online >>



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