Late Oregon man's Presidential Medal of Freedom to go on display - KPTV - FOX 12

Late Oregon man's Presidential Medal of Freedom to go on display

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The Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded posthumously to Oregonian Minoru Yasui late last year will be coming to the state next month.

The Oregon Historical Society is sponsoring an exhibit, along with the Minoru Yasui Tribute Committee and the Oregon Nikkei Endowment, that will run February 2 through the 19 at the society’s headquarters in Portland. The medal will also be shown at the state capitol in Salem on February 1 for the opening of this year’s legislative session.

"Minoru Yasui was truly one of Oregon's most courageous and historic figures," OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk said. "The Presidential Medal of Freedom is a fitting tribute to his remarkable life and legacy, and we are honored that the Yasui family is allowing us to share it with the public."

Yasui, originally from Hood River, was the first Japanese-American graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law. In 1942, he openly defied the wartime curfew against Japanese-Americans, an act that got him sent to a Portland jail for nine months of solitary confinement.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the conviction in 1943, and Yasui spent the rest of his life appealing his conviction. A federal court eventually overturned it in 1986, the year he died at age 70.

When the medal was being awarded during a ceremony in November, President Barack Obama cited Yasui’s efforts as still being relevant 70 years later.

"Today Min's legacy has never been more important,” President Obama said at the ceremony. “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 sacrifices."

For more information on the exhibit, visit the Oregon Historical Society site at

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