The past year will be an unforgettable year. It will be remembered for COVID-19, lockdowns, wearing of masks, staying at home, and social distancing. Despite all of this, we saw the development of a vaccine in record breaking time, and, overall, 2020 was a successful year for JAVA. The year’s highlights include:
- LTG Michael Nagata (USA) was the keynote speaker at the January general membership meeting. LTG Nagata was presented with JAVA’s highest award, the Courage, Honor, and Patriotism Award. The Terry T. Shima Leadership Award was bestowed on Bill Houston. The Veterans Advocate Award was presented to Judy Brubaker, Principal (Retired), and to Teresa Potterton, Music Director (Retired), of the Spark M. Matsunaga Elementary School, Germantown, MD.
- The general membership approved substantial revisions to the JAVA by-laws allowing for more transparency and accountability in how JAVA is to be governed.
- The first Day of Affirmation ceremony was held by JAVA at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC to commemorate President Truman’s tribute on July 15, 1946 that the Nisei soldiers who served in World War II are American heroes. LTC Brett Egusa (USAR) served as the military escort. The two wreath bearers were Catherine Luette, daughter of Maj. Orville Shirey, who served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Turner Kobayashi, son of Key Kobayashi, who served with the Military Intelligence Service.
- JAVA awarded thirteen scholarships in July. The Scholarship Committee received a record high number of applications. The presentations were done virtually with all the recipients participating. Chris DeRosa, Scholarship Committee Chair, presided over the ceremony.
- JAVA’s Veterans Day Program was live streamed in front of the names of the almost 800 Nisei soldiers who were killed while serving during World War II. The granite panels of these inscribed names are located within the National Japanese American Memorial in Washington, DC. Rear Admiral Andrew Sugimoto (USCG) was the featured speaker. The National Japanese American Memorial Foundation was a co-sponsor.
- For the first time, the Department of Veterans Affairs selected and listed JAVA’s November 11th program on the VA’s website as one of the “Veterans Day observances throughout the country that represents a fitting tribute to America’s heroes.”
- November also saw the hosting of the 72nd Annual Memorial Day Program at Arlington National Cemetery, which JAVA co-sponsors with JACL DC and NJAMF. Rescheduled due to COVID, the Program which was started in 1948 by Key Kobayashi and continues to be organized by the Kobayashi family, is the longest running Memorial Day service at Arlington. JAVA EC member CAPT Cynthia Macri, MD, USN (Ret), served as the keynote speaker at the event.
- JAVA sponsored its first fundraiser and is grateful to all the donors whose generous support will help JAVA to pay for its programs and operating expenses.
- The Postmaster General’s approval of a Nisei Soldier stamp that will be issued in 2021 brought a successful completion to the campaign that JAVA fully supported. JAVA played a substantial role in having the United States Postal Service (USPS) assure us that “the stamp design honors all Japanese Americans who served in World War II.”
With 2020 still in the rearview mirror, JAVA’s Executive Council is planning to build on these successes with the hope that 2021 will be an even more eventful year for JAVA.
I thank the Members of the Executive Council, JAVA Committees, and Neet Ford — JAVA’s Administrator — for their dedication in making JAVA’s programs truly successful. And, on behalf of JAVA, I wish all of our JAVA Members and Friends a very Happy New Year!!!