President Obama meets Japanese American World War II veterans

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President Barack Obama returns the salute from one of the members of the group of Japanese American WWII veterans during a meeting in the Oval Office to congratulate them on their Congressional Gold Medal, Feb. 18, 2014. (Photo by Pete Souza/ Official White House)

On Feb. 18, President Obama met with seven surviving Japanese American World War II veterans, all in their 90s, to thank them in person for their service.

On Feb. 19, 1942, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, leading the United States government to confine more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent in internment camps across the United States. Almost two-thirds of those incarcerated were U.S. citizens.

During the war, more than 33,000 second-generation Japanese Americans (nisei) volunteered to serve in the United States Army — most notably, in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most decorated units of World War II, and the Military Intelligence Service.

In 2010, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal — one of the highest civilian awards in the United States — to thousands of these veterans, finally recognizing the sacrifices they made for their country. (end)

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