Bugler at the 72nd Annual Memorial Day Service, November 15, 2020 (Rescheduled). Photo: Neet Ford.
By Gerald Yamada
On behalf of the Japanese American Veterans Association, I welcome you to this 72nd annual Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery. JAVA is proud to again co-sponsor this service, with the Washington, DC Chapter of JACL and the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.
Thank you -- to Turner Kobayashi and your family -- for again organizing today’s rescheduled Memorial Day Service. This event was started in 1948 by Turner’s Dad, Key Kobayashi. I remember Key with very fond memories and appreciate his work, as a member of the Redress Commission staff. This program has been organized every year, since 1948, by the Key Kobayashi family, and we look forward to enjoying this program in the many years to come.
Today, we honor the soldiers who are no longer with us. They came from different backgrounds to serve, but they had one thing in common. They believed in America.
For our community, the World War II Japanese American soldiers serve as our role models. They put honor, duty, and country first. They kept their faith that America was still the land of hope and opportunity for them and their families. They answered the call to serve because their faith in America was neither diminished by the government’s suspicions of their ethnicity nor eroded by the government’s distrust of their loyalty.
They stepped forward at a time when they knew that they would be putting themselves in harm’s way. Almost 800 Nisei soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II. They died fighting for America, without knowing, if the freedoms, for which they fought, would be restored to their family and friends, who were unjustly imprisoned by the Franklin Roosevelt Administration.
The wartime service and valor of the World War II Japanese American soldiers won battles on battlefields in Europe and in the Pacific, and fought prejudice at home. Today, and every day, let us remember their faith in America, their sacrifices for our community, and their service to our country. They are our heroes. They are America’s heroes.
In this delayed Memorial Day service, let us honor, with our deepest respect, all fallen soldiers. And, in appreciation to all, who have served and are serving, we simply say to you, “Thank you for your service and God bless you.”
Gerald Yamada, 72nd Annual Veterans Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery, November 15, 2020. Photo: Neet Ford.