They sat on the stage in front of the Go For Broke Monument patiently waiting for the ceremony to begin. As I watched the 150 veterans dressed in white shirts, military hats and red, white and blue leis, I couldn't help but wonder if these veterans appreciated all the attention or if they were there due to the gentle urging of family and friends.
The Los Angeles Regional Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony for the veterans of the U.S. Army's 100th Infantry Battalion, 442 Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service was held on June 9, 2012 in Little Tokyo to honor their service, sacrifice and
bravery during World War II. This was the regional version of The White House ceremony held in Washington, D.C., on November 2, 2011.
Among the honorees were past SVF JACL Presidents
Sam Uyehara (unable to attend) and Tom Doi. Many widows and family members of deceased veterans were in attendance to receive the Gold Medal on behalf of their loved ones. The Master of Ceremonies was KABC news anchor David Ono. Maj. Gen. Rodney Kobayashi gave the keynote address. Reps. Adam Schiff, Judy Chu, Maxine Waters, Lucille Roybal-Allard and LA Councilmember Jan Perry handed out the congressional Gold Medal replicas to each veteran as their names were simultaneously read by members of the Japanese American Bar Association.
The Go For Broke Monument was a fitting backdrop for the Ceremony. "Go For Broke!" was the motto adopted by all of the Japanese-American units formed during World War II. Names of more than 16,000 Nisei soldiers have been engraved on the monument that serves as a tribute of remembrance and honor to them. One side of the Gold Medal features Nisei soldiers with the inscriptions on the outer rim NISEI SOLDIERS OF WORLD WAR II and GO FOR BROKE.
As the ceremony came to a close with the singing of "America The Beautiful" and taps, the veterans received a standing ovation that brought tears of pride and gratitude from the widows and family members. My dad was one of those who had required some gentle urging to attend the ceremony. After the group photos were taken, there was a reception with fellow veterans. Walking down 1st Street after the event, my dad said "Gee, I didn't think there would be this many people here and that it would be such a big event. They really did a good job." Translation: He was glad that we encouraged him to attend!
Mahony is a San Fernando Valley Chapter board member and the daughter of Tom Doi