Go For Broke

National Education Center

The Medal of Honor is the United States of America’s highest award that an individual in its Armed Forces can earn. The US Department of Defense states that the Medal of Honor is conferred upon US Armed Forces service members who “distinguish themselves through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.”

At the end of World War II, despite recognized demonstrations of bravery by the Japanese American soldiers, only one Japanese American, Sadao S. Munemori, was acknowledged for his valor with the Medal of Honor in 1946.

It would not be until more than half a century later that this oversight would be addressed. On June 21, 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded the Medal of Honor to 22 Asian Americans, 20 of whom were Japanese American WWII soldiers. Of these, 13 were awarded posthumously.

This recognition acknowledged the valuable contribution these Nisei soldiers made to American history. At the ceremony, President Clinton spoke of these soldiers’ “extraordinary bravery,” stating, “They risked their lives above and beyond the call of duty. And in so doing they did more than defend America. In the face of painful prejudice they helped define America at its best.”

Scroll to top