Last week, working with the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF) and Honor Flight, Southwest Airlines transported about 150 Veterans and their guests to the Congressional Gold Medal celebration in Washington, D.C.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the nation’s highest civilian honor. It is bestowed by the United States Congress, which awarded the medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence for their unparalleled Patriotism and dedicated service during World War II. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team fought for our country nearly 70 years ago and went on to become one of the most highly decorated units in U.S. Military History.
The Congressional Gold Medal states in part, "The United States remains forever indebted to the bravery, valor, and dedication to country that these men faced while fighting a two-front battle of discrimination at home and fascism abroad. Their commitment demonstrates a highly uncommon and commendable sense of patriotism and honor."
During a dark time in our country’s history when Americans were discriminating against, and interning, Japanese Americans, these three units bravely fought for their fellow country men's and women’s freedom. It was humbling to be among these gentle warriors, most of whom are in their 80s. They were quiet as their proud family members recounted war stories that their dads had shared with them. One daughter told me that Southwest’s ticket donations were especially meaningful because, when these soldiers returned home after serving in WWII, many were not even allowed to ride on buses. Another Vet teared up at the end of the story he was telling me as he thought of his many friends and comrades who never returned. It was truly an honor to be in the presence of this distinguished group of veterans.
A huge thank you goes to Kim Delevett, who established and has grown our relationship with the NJAMF. It was a privilege for Kim and I to represent Southwest and help celebrate this important, well-deserved honor.