WASHINGTON, D.C. (HawaiiNewsNow) - They fought hard for our nation while battling a two front war - discrimination at home and fascism oversees.
About 19,000 Japanese-American soldiers volunteered to do that despite their families being forced to live in internment camps.
"As President Harry Truman said, and I quote, 'You fought not only the enemy, you fought prejudice, and you won," said Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer of California.
Today at the nation's capitol, nearly seven decades after the Pearl Harbor attack, their honor, courage and sacrifice were recognized with the nation's highest civilian honor - the Congressional Gold Medal. The award was presented collectively to the Army's three Japanese-American units that fought in the Mediterranean and European theatres - the 100th Infantry Battalion, nicknamed the Purple Heart Battalion, the "Go for Broke" 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service.
Our nation's most senior U.S. Senator and third in line to the presidency, Dan Inouye of Hawaii, is also a veteran of the 442nd. He lost his arm to an injury on the battlefield in Italy.
"At the end of the war, General McArthur said, as a result of the service of the MIS, the war ended by at least a year sooner," remarked Inouye.
House Speaker John Boehner presented the medal. "They fought hard for this nation, and they held fast to their motto, 'Go for Broke'," said Boehner.
The 442nd went on to become the most decorated military unit in history for its size and length of service.
"Their very heroic efforts are legendary and evidenced by the thousands of citations, I think 9,000 purple hearts, awards and accolades bestowed on the members of this regiment, said Republican Congressman Ralph Hall of Texas.
The Congressional Gold Medal was created by law last year and 23 Hawaii veterans and their families left for Washington on Sunday, to be there for this long overdue recognition.
"This has been a long journey, but a glorious one," said Senator Inouye. "I'm certain those who are resting in cemeteries are pleased with this day."
A special ceremony will be held for the Nisei veterans in Hawaii on December 17th.