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    February 2013
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American Heroes to Feature Former Governors George Aiyoshi & Ben Cayetano, Retired Chief Judge James Burns, and Brendan Burns

The highly-awaited Congressional Gold Medal exhibit opening next month at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum honors the WWII Nisei Soldiers in the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service.

American Heroes

The exhibit will be on view from March 9 through April 14, 2013, in the Castle Memorial Building, and special panel discussions will be taking place each weekend throughout the exhibit’s run, in Bishop Museum’s Atherton Halau.

On opening day, March 9th, at 11:15 a.m., a special 90-minute panel discussion entitled, “After WWII-Hawaii’s Political War,” will feature former Governors George Ariyoshi and Ben Cayetano, retired Chief Judge James Burns, and Aina Haina Elementary School Principal Brendan Burns.  Dan Boylan will serve as the panel moderator.

Then Lt. Governor George Ariyoshi with Governor John Burns

Then Lt. Governor George Ariyoshi with Governor John Burns

“We hope to share varying perspectives on the political and social discrimination suffered by people of Japanese ancestry in Hawaii prior to, during, and after WWII, relevant events that occurred during WWII, the successful post-WWII political revolution, organized and led by former Governor John A. Burns and the Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJAs), and the positive changes resulting from that successful revolution,” explains Judge Burns, youngest son of the former Governor.

Retired Chief Judge James Burns

Retired Chief Judge James Burns

In addition, the panel will discuss the leadership skills of Governor Burns and the AJAs, and the importance of having current and future leaders with those qualities.

The public is invited to view the exhibit and to attend the panel discussion.  Prior to the conclusion of the discussion, the panelists will respond to questions from the audience.  Admission to Bishop Museum is free on March 9th, only, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

A private opening ceremony will be held on the Great Lawn on March 9th, at 10 a.m.

Nissei Schedule

Schedule of Events (Click to Enlarge)

American Heroes:  World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal was developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in collaboration with the National Veterans Network, and circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.  Accompanying educational materials were developed by the National Veterans Network in partnership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

The national tour of seven cities – New Orleans, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, OR, Chicago, and Houston – is made possible by the support of AARP, Cole Chemical, Comcast/NBC Universal, the Japanese American Veterans Association, Pritzker Military Library, the Shiratsuki Family, and Southwest Airlines.

The 100th Infantry Battalion was a unit within the U.S. Army’s 34th Infantry Division.  Compromised mostly of Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) from the Hawaii Army National Guard, the 100th Infantry Battalion also included volunteers from Japanese internment camps, which were then located throughout the United States during WWII.

Battalion members’ stature, fitness levels, and unified camaraderie during training, prior to their deployment, made the 100th Infantry Battalion a strong unit heading into combat.  With the “Remember Pearl Harbor” motto, the 100th Infantry Battalion were consistently motivated to prove their loyalty to the United States.

During their 20 month combat term in Europe, the unit became known as the “Purple Heart Battalion” for the number of casualties lost.  They fought in six war campaigns in Italy and France, earning the unit four Presidential Unit Citations.  http://www.100thbattalion.org/

Considered to be one of the most decorated combat units in United States military history, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team consisted of a share of enlisted soldiers, as well as volunteers who fought in Europe during WWII.  Two-thirds of their original unit were Americans of Japanese Ancestry, or Nisei, from Hawaii, while the rest were Nisei soldiers from the Mainland.

The “Go For Broke” motto means to risk everything in order to win.  Activated under the command of Colonel Charles W. Pence, the 442nd worked closely with the 100th Infantry Battalion.  Intelligent and zealous in learning their military duties, the 442nd understood patience and the importance of strategy while in combat situations.  Over 14,000 men served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.  Their values of service, loyalty and sacrifice earned the unit over 9,000 Purple Hearts, eight Presidential Unit Citations, 21 Medals of Honor, and 560 Silver Stars.  http://www.the442.org/

The Military Intelligence Service, or MIS, was a group of smaller units consisting of Nisei soldiers during WWII.  Their average unit size was between 10-20 men.  Playing a vital role in the U.S. military tactics during WWII, the MIS units used linguistic skills to gather intelligence, read captured enemy maps and documents, and conduct translations and interrogations.  MIS unit members were at heightened risk because they could be confused for enemy troops by their own U.S. military personnel.

MIS post-war work proved crucial for the transition during Japanese occupancy.  MIS servicemen provided indispensible assistance during Japanese war crime trials, in the repatriation of Japanese prisoners of war (POWs), and in establishing positive relations between U.S. military forces and Japanese civilians.  Working under mostly classified orders, the MIS units did not receive the recognition other units and battalions had during and post war.

The Bishop Museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in memory of his wife Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last direct descendant of King Kamehameha I.  Today, the Museum is recognized as the principal museum of the Pacific, housing the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific artifacts and natural history specimens.  More than 350,000 people visit the Museum each year, including over 40,000 schoolchildren.  For more information, please call (808) 847-3511 or visit www.bishopmuseum.org.

Please direct all media inquiries to Mona Wood-Sword or Brooke Wilson, per above.


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