Presidential Medal of Freedom
On November 24, 2015, President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom to Minoru Yasui. In his introductory remarks, he praised Min, saying:
On a Saturday night in March of 1942, Minoru Yasui left his law office to walk around Portland, Oregon. It was a seemingly ordinary act that defied the discriminatory military curfew imposed on Japanese Americans during World War II. Min took his case to the Supreme Court and lost, a decision he fought for the rest of his life. Yet despite what Japanese Americans endured -- suspicion, hostility, forced removal, internment -- Min never stopped believing in the promise of his country. He never stopped fighting for equality and justice for all. “We believe in the greatness and in the great ideals of this country,” he once said. “We think that there is a future for all humanity in the United States of America.” Today, Min’s legacy has never been more important. It is a call to our national conscience; a reminder of our enduring obligation to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave” -- an America worthy of his sacrifice.
A photo of Min's Medal of Freedom (courtesy of Mari Hayman)
A citation accompanied the Medal
Below is a video, as loaded on Vimeo, of the part of the Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony where Min's medal is awarded.
On the citation:
"From the fruit farms of Oregon to the hallowed halls of the Supreme Court, Minoru Yasui devoted his life to fighting for basic human rights and the fair and equal treatment of every American. In challenging the military curfew placed on Japanese-Americans during World War II he brought critical attention to the issue, and paved the way for all Americans to stand as full and equal citizens. Minoru Yasui’s example endures as a reminder of the power of one voice echoing for justice."
Much appreciation to Senator Mazie Hirono for the nomination, and Peggy Nagae and her staff, along with Holly Yasui, for the many hours spent putting together the Nomination with Endorsements book.