There are few events in American history that exemplify heroism more than the actions of Japanese-Americans during World War II. While the U.S. government had put their families and communities in internment camps based solely on their ethnicity, the brave Japanese-American men of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry Battalion, and Military Intelligence Service were giving their all in defense of their country.
In segregated units, they died in the fields of Italy to rescue The Lost Battalion, liberated Holocaust victims in Dachau, and provided critical translations in the Pacific theater. In 2010, they were awarded the highest civilian honor with the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.
This year, the gold medal is touring the United States, and this past Saturday it came to Portland, Oregon for its stay at the Oregon Historical Society. A friend of mine’s grandfather and great uncle were recipients, and she suggested the opening ceremony might be a good photography opportunity. While the location presented multiple challenges photography-wise (glass and glare, inconsistent lighting, and busy backgrounds), it was also an opportunity to meet these incredible men in person and to help preserve this important moment.
The men honored were proud but humble in the face of such a huge recognition. They were stoic when listening to speeches or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, but friendly and warm in candid moments.
I’m happy that they have received recognition for their accomplishments, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to capture it to share it with you all.