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Congressional Gold Medal Moment To Share

On November 2, 2011, the long awaited Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) presentation to hundreds of Japanese-American veterans who collectively fought bravely during WW II was held in Washington D.C. Amid the applause of many well-wishers and families, the ceremony was met with much fanfare, many speeches, including the keynote speech by President Obama. 

Japanese-Americans fought to prove their faithfulness to the U.S., while their parents, brothers and sisters were detained behind barbed wire. For those veterans who were unable to join in the Washington event, the CGM presentation moved to the local state and city levels in succession, starting in Hawaii (Dec 21), Washington (Jan 12), Utah (Feb 18), Oregon (Feb 26), and in the cities of Monterey (Mar 4), San Diego (Mar 11) and may continue until the end of June to honor all of the veterans.

Most veterans are aged over 90 and when they reflected on their brilliant past, great stories were retold, many reported by the media. This is the right time and moment – the CGM Moment to share.

I came across a number of photographs of the event. Upon seeing them, I said to myself, "these need to be shared with the public at large". I received permission from the owner of the photos, Dr. Koide, one of the collective recipients on November 2, 2011, in Washington D.C.

Dr. Samuel Koide and his wife Sumi at the night of Congressional Gold Medal ceremony (Photo courtesy of Samuel Koide)

Dr. Koide was assigned to the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) after attending the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio in Monterey, CA. MIS honors were delayed because of security concerns.

I became interested in his life before and after the war. A biomedical researcher and a native Hawaiian, he went to McKinley H.S. and the University of Hawaii. He earned his M.S., M.D. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University and contributed over 300 research papers, along with helping over 30 post-doctorate candidates, including one of our mutual friends. I heard that Dr. Koide inherited Dr. Hideyo Noguchi's (1876-1928) legacy at Rockefeller University, as promoter of Dr. Noguchi Memorial Hall and statue on the campus. Dr. Koide received the distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Hawaii in mid 2000.

Last, but not least, Dr. Sumi Mitsudo-Koide was an internist at Minidoka, Idaho Concentration Camp. She studied at Swarthmore College and the Medical College, both in Pennsylvania. She joined the staff of the Montefoiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. She met and married Dr. Koide in New York. She was president of Japanese American Citizens League,  N.Y. Chapter and served at Westchester County Women's advisory Committee. She was elected to the Women's Hall of Fame in Westchester.

Drs. Koide chose Dobbs Ferry on the Hudson River, north of Yonkers, for raising children. When I looked up the list of famous residents there, I found Dr. Sam Saburo Koide, along with movie stars and, lo, Mark Zuckerberg (born there in 1984; moved to Ardsdale School District). Dr. Koide was listed as the oldest runner of the New York City Marathon and the New York Times article dated Oct 31, 2004 by Mark Fuchs read:

He is an accidental marathoner, this 81 year old man with the fast times (for his age category) and the easy laughter at the tribulations of running a 26.2 mile race in his ninth decade. He is Dr. Sam Koide, who knows what it's like to trip on pavement, lacerating lips and cracking teeth. And he will be running next Sunday among elite athletes in a field of 35,000 in the 2004 New York City Marathon. His is in a small age category; only four runners at the age of 80 or older are registered, race officials said, including Dr. Koide.

Dr. Koide started running in his late 50s and has a record of completing over 60 marathons. Whenever he runs lately, Dr. Sumi Koide makes sure that he carries an envelope containing the message: "In case this man happens to suffer illness or injuries, here's taxi fare to carry him to the nearest hospital."

On my request to resend one photo, Dr. Koide sent me a Dobbs Ferry School Foundation (DFSF) Grant brochure. For one direct cause, Drs. Koide established Sumi Lynn Memorial Fund for their beloved daughter who was almost ready for her M.D., and for others who embrace aspirations of strengthening education for future generations with innovative scientific teaching strategies. Proceeds from the endowment are to be used for seminars, conferences, research projects and training programs.

In Googling McKinley H.S., Hawaii, I saw a similar scholarship stated in a local Hawaiian newspaper. I salute Drs. Koide for their great compassion and generous grants.

From left to right: Major Keith Horikawa (EO &Chief of Staff, 100th Battalion, 442nd Inf.), Sumi Mitsudo-Koide, Samuel Saburo Koide, Lt. Colonel Albert Yazawa (Battalion Surgeon) (Photo courtesy of Samuel Koide)

© 2012 Rio Imamura

Congressional Gold Medal Military Intelligence Service MIS veterans World War II