US & World

Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Japanese-American World War II vets

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A standing room only crowd today in an entryway of the U.S. Capitol watched Japanese American veterans of World War II accept the Congressional Gold Medal.

They were the fighting men of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service of the US Army: Japanese Americans whose families remained in wartime internment camps on the home front. Democrat Barbara Boxer sponsored the U.S. Senate bill to honor them with the Congressional Gold Medal.

"You fought World War II on two fronts," Boxer, quoting Harry Truman, said. “You fought not only the enemy. You fought prejudice. And you won.”

Fujito Shohara of Los Angeles spent the war far from home in the Manzanar internment camp. Then he volunteered for the Army intelligence service, part of the US occupying force in Japan. 90-year-old Shohara attended the ceremony in his wheelchair.

"It means so much," he said. "We appreciate the United States government for recognizing the hard work we all did." Shohara’s job was questioning Japanese prisoners of war returning from Russian prisoner of war camps.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor bestowed by the Congress.