JAVA President, Gerald Yamada. Photo: N. Ford.
ANC Memorial Day Service Remarks (As Prepared)
May 30, 2021
On behalf of the Japanese American Veterans Association, I welcome you to the 73rd annual Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery.
JAVA is proud to again co-sponsor this service, together with the Washington, DC Chapter of JACL and the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.
We thank the Key Kobayashi family for organizing this event.
Today, we honor the soldiers who are no longer with us. They answered the call to serve. They served with hope, honor, and personal courage.
The World War II Japanese American soldiers served at a difficult time in our history. The government distrusted their loyalty based solely on their ethnicity. America was at war with Japan and anyone here who was of Japanese ancestry was suspect.
It mattered not that 2/3’s of those whose lives were disrupted by Executive Order 9066 were U.S. citizens and supposedly guaranteed equal treatment under the U.S. Constitution. The government openly discriminated against them and unabashedly denied them their rights. History has substantiated that the government was motivated by prejudice, war hysteria, and lack of political leadership.
Today, the government’s resolve to enforce equal protection of the law for all is again being tested. We are witnessing a dramatic increase of hate crimes against Asian Americans and against members of the Jewish community. Unfortunately, our history has a pattern of hatred against minority groups based on stereotypes.
The war against prejudice is ongoing. I ask, “What can we do?”
The Japanese Americans, who answered the call to serve our country during World War II, kept their faith in America. They served to fight prejudice and to prove that they are entitled to have all their rights as U.S. citizens. They won their battle.
Like the World War II Japanese American soldiers, we must keep our faith in America. Let us follow their example and do what we can to ensure that the government provides equal protection to all Americans. We must join together in our resolve to end prejudice by raising our voices whenever we are aware of unequal treatment.
In closing, let us honor, with our deepest respect, all the fallen soldiers who died fighting to preserve our freedoms. And, in appreciation to all, who have served and are serving, we simply say, “Thank you for your service and God bless you.”