Series of Public Film Presentations Scheduled
Smithsonian Tour of Congressional Gold Medal Awarded to Japanese American World War II Veterans Makes Last Stop at Holocaust Museum Houston
HOUSTON, TX (Dec. 9, 2013) – The real-life stories of some of America’s most honored heroes will be the focus of a series of public events hosted by Holocaust Museum Houston this winter in conjunction with its exhibition of “American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal.”Congressional Gold Medal

Nearly seven decades after the beginning of World War II, the Congressional Gold Medal – the nation’s highest civilian award – was bestowed collectively on the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) for their extraordinary accomplishments in the war.

The men in these units, comprised almost entirely of persons of Japanese ancestry, fought with bravery and valor against America’s enemies on the battlefields in Europe and Asia, even while many of their parents and other family members were held in internment camps.

The National Veterans Network has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program to share this extraordinary story during an exclusive seven-city tour, including its last stop this winter at Holocaust Museum Houston.

The exhibit “American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal” opens Dec. 19, 2013, and runs through Jan. 26, 2014, in the Museum’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St. in Houston’s Museum District. Viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Scheduled related events include:
  • "Honorable Journey” and Film Discussion Moderated by Christine Sato-Yamazaki
    Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, 10:30 a.m. to Noon
    Avrohm I. Wisenberg Multi-Purpose Learning Center
    Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004

    “Honorable Journey” charts the 70-year struggle of Japanese-Americans who came of age during World War II. Narrated by George Takei, the 16-minute film features conflicts of loyalty to tradition, family and country, played out against the backdrop of world war. Eyewitnesses and descendants recount a lifelong journey from barbed wire, battlefields and jail cells to vindication and the highest honors in the land. As World War II veteran Sen. Daniel Inouye says in the film, "That's one thing about democracy. You must be patient." Christine Sato-Yamazaki, chairperson of the National Veterans Network, will lead a post-film discussion. Please note: this event is by invitation only.

  • “A Flicker in Eternity" Film Screening and Discussion with Lane HirabayashiA Flicker in Eternity
    Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
    Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore Blvd., Houston, TX 77004
    A Flicker in Eternity” is the coming-of-age tale of Stanley Hayami, a talented young teenager caught between his dream of becoming a writer/artist and his duty to his country. Based on Hayami’s own, this documentary is the firsthand account of a 15-year-old thrust into the turmoil of World War II and is a poignant reminder of the indignity of incarceration and the tragedy of war. Through Stanley’s endearing cartoons and witty observations, this film chronicles his life behind barbed wire and as a soldier in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. It is based on his diary and letters, which are archived at the Japanese American National Museum, and Joanne Oppenheim’s annotations from Stanley Hayami, Nisei Son. Lane Ryo Hirabayashi is a full professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at UCLA, where he is also the inaugural "George & Sakaye Aratani Chair in Japanese American Incarceration, Redress, and Community.”  Hirabayashi teaches courses on the Japanese American experience, Asian American history through the medium of documentaries, and contemporary issues in the Asian American community, among other classes and seminars. This event is presented in conjunction with “American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and The Congressional Gold Medal” on view through Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, at Holocaust Museum Houston. Tickets are $5 for members and $10 for nonmembers. To RSVP, please visit http://asiasociety.org/texas or call 713-496-9901.

  • "Twice Heroes: America's Nisei Veterans of WWII and Korea” with Tom GravesTwice Heroes
    Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, Reception 6:30 p.m., Remarks 7 p.m.
    Albert and Ethel Herzstein Theater
    Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004

    San Francisco writer and photographer Tom Graves spent a decade with the Nisei (Japanese American) soldiers of World War II and the Korean War, determined to share their unlikely story – one that must be told. That story is now being told in “Twice Heroes: America's Nisei Veterans of WWII and Korea.” At first denigrated and mistrusted, Nisei veterans – now in their 80s and 90s – earned the praise of a nation, and ultimately, a Congressional Gold Medal. The most decorated U.S. military unit in history, these are the same men and women who fought while their families were interned in bleak American prison camps during World War II, a black mark on America's promises of equality and liberty. Graves will autograph copies of his book following the program. This event is presented by the Japan America Society of Houston in conjunction with “American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and The Congressional Gold Medal” on view through Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, at Holocaust Museum Houston. Visit www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx to RSVP online.

  • "Honor Bound: A Personal Journey”Honor Bound
    Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
    Albert and Ethel Herzstein Theater
    Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004

    “Honor Bound: A Personal Journey” is the story of Wendy Hanamura, a news reporter who chronicles the history of her father, Sgt. Howard Hanamura, and his military unit, Company L, First Platoon, who fought for the highly decorated yet controversial 442nd Regiment of the U.S. Army. These Japanese-American soldiers fought with legendary courage during World War II, while their families were forced into internment camps at home. This award-winning documentary follows Wendy and Howard throughout Europe, where they retrace the steps of the 442nd along their barnstorming tour. Sgt. Hanamura and his fellow soldiers detail their battles, the hardships of wartime travel as well as life as a Japanese American during World War II. Their stories flesh out a harrowing time for Japanese Americans, which was during a highly anti-Japanese era in the United States. Veterans also recount the 442nd's rescue of the "Lost Battalion," an operation the Army calls one of the top 10 battles of all time. Tommie Okabayashi and Mari Okabayashi will lead a post-film discussion. Tsutomu “Tommie” Okabayashi, a native Texan, joined the 442nd regiment in the Spring of 1943 at the age of 18. He trained at Camp Shelby, MS, and fought in Italy and France with the Cannon Company. His unit rescued a battalion in France made up of Texans, now known as the “Lost Battalion."

  • Film Screening and Brown Bag Lunch: “Honor and Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story”Honor and Sacrifice
    Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
    Avrohm I. Wisenberg Multi-Purpose Learning Center
    Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004

    “Honor and Sacrifice” tells the complex story of a Japanese immigrant family ripped apart by World War II. The Matsumoto family included five sons; two who fought for the Americans and three who fought for the Japanese. The eldest, Hiroshi (Roy), became a hero, fighting against the Japanese with Merrill's Marauders, an American guerrilla unit in Burma. He was born near Los Angeles, educated in Japan and became a hero when he used his Japanese language skills and military training to save his surrounded, starving battalion deep in the Burmese jungle. At the same time, his parents and sisters were living in their family's ancestral home, Hiroshima. The story is told by Roy's daughter Karen as she discovers her father's work in military intelligence, kept secret for 50 years. Ann Takehara and Marion and Kenneth Takehara will lead a post-film discussion. Please note: Lunch is not provided.
Tickets for the public events at HMH are $5 for HMH members and $8 for nonmembers, and seating is limited. To RSVP online, visit www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx. Students and seniors may pay $5 at the door. For more information, e-mail exhibits@hmh.org.

The National Veterans Network is a coalition of Japanese American veteran and civic organizations representing eight regions in the United States that advocates on a national level to educate and enlighten the public about the experience and legacy of the Japanese American World War II soldiers.

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, nine research centers, and numerous educational and cultural programs. To learn more about the collaborating Smithsonian offices involved in this project, visit sites.si.edu, americanhistory.si.edu and apa.si.edu.

The national tour of "American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal" is made possible by the support of lead sponsor Cole Chemical, AARP, Comcast/NBC Universal, the Japanese American Veterans Association, Pritzker Military Library, the Shiratsuki Family, Southwest Airlines and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund.

Local community partners include the AARP, Asia Society Texas Center, BP America, CenterPoint Energy, Green Bank, Donna Cole, Kathleen and Glen Gondo, Japan-America Society of Houston and the Japanese American Citizens League Houston.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy. Holocaust Museum Houston is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.

For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.
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Museum Hours:

Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

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Free for children, students and college-level students with valid ID
Free admission on Sundays

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