Congressional Gold Medals

50th Anniversary Commemoration Of Birmingham Baptist Church Bombing: A Time For Reflection

50 years ago today, in the most segregated city in America, led by the most divisive Governor in America at the time, hate and racism combined to lead to a horrific bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Governor George Wallace had already become the symbol of the worst in America, having stood in the door of the Registrar’s Office at the University of Alabama, trying to prevent two black college students from attending the state university based upon their race, but with President John F. Kennedy sending in the National Guard to insure their entrance and security.

Four young black girls were killed in the bombing, an incomprehensible event committed by the Ku Klux Klan, against a house of worship.

This event galvanized the civil rights movement, although it took decades to prosecute and convict the perpetrators of this slaughter.

C Span today is spending much of the day on American History TV commemorating this tragedy, and reflecting on how far we have come in fifty years, and how far we have progressed. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a direct result of this tragedy, helped along by the brilliance of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who overcame the Senate filibuster to accomplish what seemed like impossible odds to overcome opposition.

Congress awarded Congressional Gold Medals in honor of the four girls, in a recent ceremony, and bronze replicas are available for purchase through the US Mint, a great suggestion for a wonderful gift to remind the younger generation of the sacrifices of those involved in the civil rights movement.

Finally, Congressional Gold Medals To Japanese American Veterans Of World War II!

Seventy years ago next December 7, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, forcing America into World War II.

Among the victims of the Japanese attack were approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans who were placed into internment camps for the duration of the war, because of their ethnicity.

But their sons served honorably in World War II and contributed mightily to the victory over both Japan and Germany, with a segregated unit winning more medals, honors and awards than any other unit of World War II.

Now, Congress has seen fit, as of November 2, to honor the veterans who served and those who died through the awarding of Congressional Gold Medals in a ceremony in the US Capitol Visitor Center, presided over by Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The most touching moment was the speech of Senate President Pro Tem Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who has served longer in the Senate than anyone but the late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

Wounded seriously in World War II, and recuperating in a hospital alongside former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, Inouye went on to become the most famous Asian American politician in the history of Congress, and if he serves in office until June 29, 2014, he will have become the longest serving senator in US history, surpassing Senator Byrd.

On Veterans Day, it is appropriate that we honor and commemorate those heroic Japanese American soldiers who did their duty despite their families being interned, as they fought for freedom and democracy!