HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On the surface, the Congressional Gold Medal is a shining honor, but the memories it represents come from a much darker part of American history.
As part of an exhibit dedicated to the sacrifices of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the nation's highest civilian award will be front and center at the Bishop Museum for the next six weeks.
"One of the roles of being an institution is to be the memory for our community," said Bishop Museum President & CEO Blair Collis."That's why its an honor for us to be a part of this so these stories aren't lost and it can help inform and inspire future generations."
Two years ago, the medal was collectively presented to the three Japanese-American units that served in the war, including the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service.
Glenn Masunaga and Yoshinobu Oshiro were in the MIS and translated Japanese documents intercepted by the United States.
"We had an especially hard time because I had to go through the readings quite a bit," Masunaga said. "Use the dictionary, Japanese dictionary to English, so that's about all I did."
Despite their service, both were also among the thousands of Japanese-Americans who battled discrimination at home.
They say the exhibit is a representation of how much the country has changed.
"We were considered Japs," Masunaga said. "Now because of all the activity, I think being Japanese, you don't have to feel too shame about being Japanese."
Oshiro adds the exhibit can be an educational experience for Hawaii's youth.
"It's important for the younger generation to at least know that things like this have happened," Oshiro said.
The medal will stop at five other museums before going on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Recipients are proud to know theirs and thousands of other legacies will live on.
"It gives me great pleasure and feeling of gratefulness to my mother country because she did not forget us," Masunaga said. "She rewarded us and thanked us for our services."
Service that was deserving of a gold medal.