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JFK Visited by Mother of Congressional Medal of Honor Winner

June 3, 1963 - The 76-year-old mother of the only Japanese American to win a Congressional Medal of Honor visited for 15 minutes this morning with President Kennedy. As she left his office, she said, “It pays to live long.” Mrs. Nawa Munemori was accompanied by Mrs. Thomas Tamura and Miss Kiki Munemori, sisters of Medal of Honor winner Private Sadao S. Munemori, who was killed in Italy in April 1945. Joining them was Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Democrat of Hawaii and the first American of Japanese ancestry to serve in the Senate. President Kennedy told reporters: “I want to welcome this distinguished family here with Senator Inouye. I appreciate the gift of the story of the 442nd Combat Team, which I think is an outstanding story of American courage.” The gift referred to a copy of “Americans: the Story of the 442nd’s Combat Team,” with which Sen. Inouye served and lost an arm in Italy in World War II. Following the visit, Mrs. Munemori told reporters: “I think it is a great honor and privilege, especially as a recently naturalized citizen, to be able to shake hands with the President. It pays to live long.” Her son, awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously, singlehandedly destroyed two German machine-gun nests and then flung himself atop a grenade, saving the lives of two comrades. He had volunteered for U.S. Army service in February 1942.


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