2008 National Conference » Events

Beyond the Call of Duty: Honoring the 24 Japanese American Medal of Honor Recipients Display

Topic: General Activity
Date: Saturday, July 5, 2008
Time:
Location: Centennial Ballroom Foyer, 3rd Floor

The Japanese American National Museum’s display “Beyond the Call of Duty” honors the extraordinary war heroism of Japanese American recipients of the prestigious Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest and most rarely awarded Armed Forces decoration.

Until 2000, only four Japanese Americans had been awarded the Medal of Honor: Sadao S. Munemori of the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Korean War veteran Hiroshi H. Miyamura, and Vietnam War veterans Rodney Yano and Terry Kawamura. That changed on June 21, 2000 when President Bill Clinton presented 20 additional Japanese Americans and two other Asian Pacific Americans, all World War II veterans, with the Medal of Honor, an upgrade from their Distinguished Service Cross decorations. Through a review of Asian Pacific Americans’ Armed Service records, initiated by Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawai`i, it was discovered that Japanese American soldiers initially recommended for the Medal of Honor by their units for their service in World War II instead received the Distinguished Service Cross. “The bias, discrimination and hysteria of that time unfortunately had an impact on the decision to [not] award the military’s highest honor to Asian and Pacific Islanders,” notes Akaka.

Medal of Honor recipients are those who clearly distinguish themselves by their actions in combat and who risked their lives above and beyond the call of duty. This display, on view throughout the course of the conference, honors those Japanese Americans who exhibited personal bravery, self-sacrifice, and extraordinary heroism through various maps, photos, text panels, and labels.