On April 30th, at the Dinner hosted by Holocaust Museum Houston the 2015 Lyndon B. Johnson Moral Courage Award was awarded to the late Chiune Sugihara.
This award comes from President Lyndon B. Johnson who, as a member of the US House of Representatives, welcomed Jewish refugees from Europe during the Second World War. The award is presented annually to those individuals who have displayed exceptional moral courage and fought against prejudice.
This year’s two honorees were the late Chiune Sugihara, who was stationed in Kaunas in Lithuania in 1940, and the late Feng Shan Ho, who served as Consul General of China in Vienna in 1938. For this dinner, the families of both diplomats were invited and Consul General of Japan in Houston, Nozomu Takaoka and Consul General of China in Houston Li Qiangmin served as Honorary Chairs.
During the short time Mr. Sugihara was stationed in Lithuania during the Second World War, he issued about 2000 “Visas for Life” to pass-through Japan and on to other countries in order to save the lives of 6,000 Jewish refugees escaping the Holocaust. A hundred thousand people made up of those refugees and their descendants were saved as a result.
Before the award ceremony, a short video was shown featuring Ms. Edith Hamer, a Holocaust survivor in Houston, who spoke of her gratitude to Mr. Sugihara, saying that she, her child and her grand-child would not be alive without Mr. Sugihara’s issuing visas. Then, Mr. Sugihara’s daughter-in-law Michi Sugihara, granddaughter Madoka Sugihara and great-granddaughter Oriha Sugihara stepped onto the stage along with Consul General Nozomu Takaoka, and received a standing ovation from the audience.
Consul General Takaoka spoke of his esteem for Mr. Sugihara’s brave humanitarian actions and noted that Prime Minister Abe expressed his determination to keep Mr. Sugihara’s courage out of good will in our memory during his recent visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (link).
Ms. Michi Sugihara was then presented the Lyndon B. Johnson Moral Courage Award by Consul General Takaoka while Ms. Madoka Sugihara gave some remarks. She disclosed that although her grandfather kept silent about his actions, he stated that when he was granted the honor of Righteous Among the Nations he did what he should do as a human being for people in need of help,. She was also proud that her grand-father’s dedicated actions have been acknowledged in the world as well as in Japan, citing the Prime Minister’s praise during his visit to the museum that the courageous actions by a single man saved thousands of lives.