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Japanese Americans in the Nation’s Capital Hold Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk

31 May 2019 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Reprinted from JACL WDC Newsletter

It was a beautiful morning as over 100 people gathered on Saturday, April 6, for the 21st Annual Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk.  With high energy, Nen Daiko joined us again to open theprogram.  The Mount Airy Boy Scout Troop 508 along with Color Guard, retired Lieutenant5 Colonels Marty Herbert and Mark Nakagawa, presented the colors accompanied by Dr. Noriko Hunter singing the national anthem.

DC Chapter Board Youth Co-chair, Ms. Christie Mori, did a great job serving as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the program.  Mr. Richard Bradley, Chair of the National Cherry BlossomFestival, gave remarks and joining him was Ms. Diana Mayhew, the Executive Director of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  Minister Ken Mukai gave greetings on behalf of the Embassy of Japan, accompanied by Ms. Haruna Minoura and her new husband.  Also providing greetings were representatives of the co-sponsors; Mr. Larry Oda from the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, Mr. Al Goshi from the Japanese American Veterans Association, and Ms. Georgette Furukawa from the DC Chapter of JACL. 

This year’s theme, “Fractured: The Faces of Family Separation”, sought to share stories of families separated in the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and subsequent incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and the similarities to the situation happening now with those seeking asylum in our country today. Mr. Bob Sakaniwa, former JACL representative, moderated the panel which included Mrs. Yuka Fujikura, incarcerated at Tule Lake with her family and Mr. Kham Moua, immigration policy advocate at the Southeast Asia Resource Center. 

Bob started off the panel laying a historical perspective during World War II. Yuka shared heartfelt memories of her family, beginning with when her father was taken away early after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Her mother remained strong throughout and supported her children’s endeavors, particularly when her brother, Minoru “Min” Yasui, defied curfew and was subsequently arrested and sent to Minidoka. Yuka also talked about her sister, who was able to leave camp to attend college. This left only her and her brother, Homer, at home trying desperately to find a home for their aging cat. Kham then shared the story of his family’s journey to the United States. He further talked about the impact of separation in the broader context of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities today. 

After the symbolic ribbon cutting before the Walk, attendees enjoyed more taiko drumming by the Mark H. Rooney Taiko School’s Miyako Troupe. 

Color Guard Line Up

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