JAVA sends a warm Aloha to our new Veterans as well as new Friends of JAVA.
Naomi Childres, USA
Wesley Chiu, USAF
Robert Clewis, USAF (Ret)
Dale Kawata, USA
LTC John Nakata, USA
Delbert Nishimoto, USA
LCDR Luke Tajima, USN (Ret)
John Tsutsui, USA
Friends of JAVA
JAVA offers a heartfelt thanks to our generous members and friends for their gifts, memorials, and tributes given in support of our mission, events, and scholarships. We are truly grateful.
Anonymous - In Memory of Roy Sugimoto
Mas and Marcia Hashimoto - General Fund
Sheldon Henderson – General Fund
Dale Kawata - General Fund
LTC Jason I. Kuroiwa, USA (Ret) - General Fund
BG Neal S. Mitsuyoshi, USA - General Fund
LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret) – General Fund
Kenjalin Ogata - General Fund
Chris Nguyen - General Fund
Govan Yee - General Fun
Go For Broke Stamp. Photo credit: U.S. Postal Service.
Special for JAVA by Wayne Osako
Los Angeles, CA. The Stamp Our Story Committee (SOSC) continues to be busy developing and preparing for the release of the Go For Broke Japanese American Soldiers of World War II commemorative stamp. The USPS will officially release the stamp this Thursday, June 3rd, through a prerecorded video from USPS headquarters.
The following day, the USPS allows special dedications to take place. SOSC is setting up the First City of Issuance - Los Angeles, California stamp unveiling on Friday, June 4th. The program is private, but it will be livestreamed at 9:30 a.m. PDT / 12:30 p.m PDT on Friday, June 4, 2021, and recorded for viewing online through the SOSC's website, www.StampOurStory.org.
Honolulu (June 4th), Kauai (June 4th), Houston (June 4th), San Francisco (June 4th), Boise (June 13th), and Portland, Oregon (June 14th), will have stamp dedications that will follow the LA dedication. Links to view them will be available on the Stamp Our Story website as well.
One of SOSC’s tasks has been to develop a short video on the history of the stamp campaign. Developed through the generous volunteer efforts of filmmakers and documentarians Robert Horsting, Tim Yuge, and Kaia Rose, viewers will be able to hear founder Fusa Takahashi, and family members of the founders.
Filmed on May 8th, the production crew spent a long day documenting the history of what it took to get the stamp, and perspectives on the stamp’s meaning to people today. “Viewers will get a glimpse into the efforts of the founders and the SOSC committee,” said Wayne Osako, SOSC Co-Chair. “The founders’ mission has been, and continues to be, to teach others about the American legacy of the Nisei Soldiers through the stamp.”
SOSC has also developed an educational curriculum for 3rd-6th grade that teachers can use. Through the generous efforts of the Anaheim Elementary School District in collaboration with SOSC, educators now have a way to bring the story of the Nisei Soldiers of the war into their classrooms. Go to the “Education” tab on the Stamp Our Story website for links. The curriculum includes a teacher’s guide, slideshow, YouTube art lesson video, and a special interview with 100th Battalion veteran Don Miyada (96). SOSC is developing future educational programming following the stamp dedications — a GoFundMe site is being established where people can contribute to help, which will soon be found through the SOSC website.
Wayne Osako (Co-Chair), Aiko O. King (CoFounder), and Fusa Takahashi (CoFounder), at the May 8, 2021 interview in Anaheim, CA. Photo: Courtesy of Wayne Osako.
Behind the scenes at the May 8, 2021 interview in Anaheim, CA. Robert Horsting (right) talks to Tim Yuge. Photo: Courtesy of Wayne Osako.
Here is the latest information on the Go For Broke Soldiers Commemorative Forever Stamp:
On June 4, 2021, the Stamp will be unveiled in Hawai’i. As I shared previously, for 15 years, three amazing Los Angeles (LA) Nisei women, all of whom were incarcerated during the war - Fusa Takahashi, Aiko O. King, and the late Chiz Ohira – worked tirelessly with Wayne Osako, an LA sansei, toward the creation of this Forever Stamp, as a way to tell the story of the Nisei Soldiers of World War II (WWII). Fusa and Chiz were married to Nisei Soldiers.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will present a pre-recorded national stamp dedication event on June 3, 2021, the Stamp’s First Day of Issue, featuring Hawai’i’s own General David A. Bramlett, U.S. Army (Ret). The pre-recorded event may be viewed on facebook.com/USPS, or twitter.com/USPS. For more information see: https://about.usps.com/newsroom/national-releases/2021/0514ma-usps-will-honor-japanese-american-veterans-with-the-go-for-broke-forever-stamp.htm. Information about how to purchase this stamp is also on this website.
Other planned Hawaii events include:
For more background on the Nisei Soldier Story and the significance of the Go For Broke Soldiers Stamp, you can also view a May 10, 2021, 30-minute ThinkTech Hawaii interview that I participated in at: https://youtu.be/LaNj40TevXw.
Mahalo for your interest in this milestone event to honor the service, sacrifice and legacy of all the Nisei Soldiers who served during WWII. Hope you can view the livestream on June 4. 2021.
Lynn Heirakuji, President, Nisei Veterans Legacy
For more information:
Memorial Day Salute. Left to Right: Gerald Yamada, LTG Michael K. Nagata, USA, (Ret); LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret), Capt. (Dr.) Cynthia Macri, MC, USN (Ret), Howard High, Turner Koyabashi. Photo: N. Ford.
Arlington National Cemetery. Members of the Japanese American Citizens League, Washington DC Chapter, the Japanese American Veterans Association, and the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation gathered for the 73rd time on Sunday, May 30, 2021, to pay tribute to Japanese American soldiers who lost their lives in defense of our nation and all soldiers buried at Arlington.
The Memorial Day Service program, which has been organized every year since 1948 by the Kobayashi family and is the longest-running Memorial Day Service at Arlington, opened with a welcome by Turner Kobayashi. After a warm greeting, Turner acknowledged guests including the Principal of Spark Matsunaga Elementary School, Mr. James Sweeney. He also recognized two Japanese American soldiers who recently passed away and are at Arlington National Cemetery: Capt. Norio Bruce Endo, USN, and Sgt. Kay Megumi Sato, 442nd RCT. Turner then turned the podium over to event speakers.
JACL DC Chapter Co-President Linda Sato Adams reflected on the Service's theme of “Honoring the Legacy of the Nisei Soldiers” by sharing memories of her father's experiences during World War II. Although her father did not speak often about his military days, Ms. Sato Adams did recall him opening up about his Camp Shelby training after a visit to a Smithsonian exhibit titled A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the US Constitution. Her father described the unspoken ethos of the JA soldiers, which despite differences between the "Buddha heads and Katonks," was to help those lagging behind - carrying their pack, gun, whatever it took - so that all could succeed. Although the war stories were few, her father's tales always conveyed the strong bonds and kinship the soldiers in the 100th/442nd had for one another. Next, JAVA President Gerald Yamada commented on the recent rise in anti-Asian sentiment and reminded listeners of the personal struggle Japanese American soldiers in WWII faced as they defended the U.S. while enduring, along with their families, unjust treatment under the law and discrimination from other Americans. Answering the call to serve and having faith in America allowed Japanese American soldiers to overcome prejudice. Yamada urged all to look to the Japanese American soldiers of World War II, "follow their example and do what we can to ensure that the government provides equal protection to all Americans. (See Yamada's full remarks below.) Following Gerald Yamada, NJAMF Board member and longtime JAVA member, LTC Mark Nakagawa, U.S. Army (Ret), remarked on the hard and arduous path of Japanese American World War II soldiers, one paved with heroism, valor, and loss of life. That path opened up opportunities for subsequent generations to serve and take on leadership roles in Korean, Vietnam, the Gulf Wars, and other conflicts. He added that the qualities and values, such as "gaman" (enduring the seemingly unendurable quietly and with patience), "giri "(one's duty to follow the strict rules and norms of society), and "on" (obligation) that led to JA soldiers' military success, are also evident in the 15-year stamp campaign that is culminating in the USPS release of the Go For Broke Forever Stamp. By honoring the legacy of 100th, 44nd, and MIS soldiers, Nakagawa is certain that these important values will be passed down.
After an introduction by Gerald Yamada, noting a distinguished 38-year career in the military, Keynote Speaker, LTG Michael K. Nagata, U.S. Army (Ret), recounted and inspired listeners with the origins of Memorial Day which can be traced back to the Civil War and the more recent genesis of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. (See LTG Nagata's full remarks below.) General Nagata also underscored that the sacrifices and contributions of the Nisei and Asian American and Pacific Islander soldiers "are a reminder of the strength and vibrancy of an America that, at its best, strives to harness and propel the virtues and strengths of all of its people, regardless of origins, religion, race, gender, and so on." General Nagata then movingly recounted his early military career and lessons learned in responding to bigotry and prejudice. He recommended that listeners rather than succumb to outrage and frustration, should "choose a different path...that combines recognizing how far we have progressed despite all of our remaining flaws and terrible failures. It is the path that accepts the risk of trying to be better; which also requires the courage of attempting solutions that may fail, but by learning from failure, as humans always have, we will learn to make future progress." With his message of effort despite great obstacles, General Nagata gave listeners hope as they looked out on the markers of those who had sacrificed so much.
Michelle Amano, the grandaughter of Mike Masaoka, then offered a Special Tribute to her great uncle Ben Frank Masaoka who was killed while fighting to free the lost Texas Battalion. She shared the last exchange between her grandfather and his brother Ben Frank. Ben Frank was drawn to help his comrades press on and went to the front line even though his commanding officer had told him he could remain in a less hazardous area. Ben Frank exemplified honor and duty. She followed the tribute with a reading of the Japanese American Creed which was penned by her grandfather. A bugler's somber TAPs brought the 73rd Memorial Day Service to a close.
[EdNote: The 73rd Memorial Day Service was livestreamed and recorded on the JAVA Facebook page. To view a recording of the 2021 Memorial day Service click here.]
Keynote Speaker LTG Michael K. Nagata, USA (Ret). Photo: N. Ford
LTG Michael K. Nagata, USA (Ret)
2021 JACL, JAVA, NJAMF Memorial Day Service Remarks (As Prepared)
Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium
I want to begin by expressing my gratitude to the Japanese American Citizens League, the Japanese American Veterans Association, and the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation and for inviting me to attempt a small contribution to this important Memorial Day observance, and particularly on such hallowed ground as Arlington National Cemetery.
It is a privilege and honor to address all of you today as we recognize the significance of Memorial Day, and at the same time, having had the chance to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month across the United States. As a career Military member who also happens to be of Japanese descent, that convergence is both remarkable and poignant in ways that I know that so many in this audience, and many thousands more who are finding other venues to reflect on all that has come before us, are recognizing and remembering this month.
As we all learn in school, the origins of Memorial Day trace back to the American Civil War in the late 1800s. In fact, the ground that we stand on today was part of that upheaval, and in ways only the unpredictable trajectory of human history can create, went from being the ancestral home of General Robert E. Lee during a time of enormous divisiveness and fratricidal conflict, to becoming America's most important National Cemetery that honors the sacrifices that have been necessary to secure and advance American unity and liberty. After that catastrophic upheaval in the 1800s, wherein a million Americans became casualties, a movement that some began calling "Decoration Day" gradually evolved into what is now formally enshrined as the national, annual observance we are here to honor and celebrate.
The millions of American men and women who have served in our Armed Forces over our history, and in many cases have truly given the last, full measure of devotion, have only reinforced the importance and significance of this day and of this place. I'm sure that almost everyone who can hear me today knows of someone, or perhaps even has someone in your own family, who deployed overseas in defense of this Nation, and came back bearing the scars of conflict, or perhaps has been laid to rest in hallowed ground somewhere, including this place all around us.
We are all taught in school that the Civil War was based on a profound schism among the American people over the enslavement of the Black population in our country. It may seem today like such a distant, perhaps even archaic, fact that almost 20% of the American population once lived without freedom. Yet, even now, we are faced with unsettling reminders that we still too often struggle to achieve the ideals of equality and freedom... just in this past year we've had too many reminders of continued mistreatment of minorities of all types, including Asian Americans. We should certainly recognize America has made enormous changes and progress since the 1800s, but it is also obvious that we still have a long way to go to fully realize the standard that Martin Luther King once urged all of us to strive for... that the content of our character should matter far more than our race or, indeed, anything else... and we must recognize that our own children, and our grandchildren, will have to continue to work to advance this after we are gone.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month has a more recent pedigree--- it was formally introduced as a proposal in Congress in 1977, and was signed into law a year later. Very importantly, the month of May was chosen to mirror the completion of America's transcontinental railroad in May of 1869, and as I'm sure most of you know, to recognize the tremendous and back-breaking labor, and unfortunately the often terrible mistreatment, of the thousands of Chinese immigrants who built that railroad for America, and laid the foundations of so much of the prosperity and "sea to shining sea" traditions that we enjoy today. Another driver of the creation of this day is something that I and many in this audience have a historical family connection to, and it was the bravery and heroic example that thousands of young Japanese-American men and women gave us during World War II, in the face of terrible treatment by the very Government they chose to serve.
My remarks today are my attempt to blend the two themes that emerge from my own reflections on the significance of both our Memorial Day and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month... the first being a primarily military observance, and the other a more broadly cultural, societal, and perhaps even spiritual one.
Many of us here are an example of this "blending." Both sides of my own family immigrated to the United States, seeking opportunity and an escape from poverty, from Japan in the 1930s... just before World War II began. I spent a career of nearly four decades in the U.S. Military, and my father was also an Army officer after the War, serving more than two decades as an Army Chaplain. He and I shared the experiences of deploying into harm's-way in defense of America, though we both had to sometimes deal with various degrees of discrimination and prejudice, whether from our military colleagues or from some of the very same Americans we were striving to safeguard.
But, a far more important and compelling example lies a little farther back, in the America of the 1940s. As is now widely known, in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 by Imperial Japan, the United States Government decided to gather all persons of Japanese ancestry in many of our Western States, most of whom were American Citizens, and place them in so-called "Internment Camps" scattered across those States for the duration of the war. Over 120,000 Japanese-Americans were forced to abandon their homes, surrender their property, close or sell their businesses, relinquish their relationships with American society, and were essentially imprisoned for years without any due process or right of appeal. Even the U.S. Supreme Court of that day upheld this practice... a blot on the history of that body.
But, as sometimes happens in the wake of tragedy, unexpected and powerful events can emerge that show all of us what it is to rise above even the worst of circumstances.
History now records that, in the wake of this disgraceful Government treatment of its own Citizens.... obviously driven by racial bias and bigotry... over 33,000 Japanese Americans nonetheless volunteered for U.S. military service during that terrible conflict. Two of the most notable examples of this choice to willingly serve a Government that had betrayed them were the creation of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service of the U.S. Army.
In the case of the 442nd, three complete combat infantry Battalions were raised... one comprised by young Japanese-American men from Hawaii, and the other two battalions were raised in the Continental States... and often from the very Internment camps where their mothers, fathers, and siblings remained imprisoned. One small footnote- I'm very proud to say that I had three uncles, from both sides of my family, who served in the Regiment. Yet, even though all these men had volunteered to serve, the U.S. Army of the time would not allow Japanese-Americans to be officers, so these three battalions, and the entire Regiment itself, were only commanded by white officers during the war. Yet, despite these things, the 442nd would go on to participate in some of the most important military campaigns in the liberation of Europe, and in the process, become the most decorated unit of its size and length of service in U.S. military history; and sadly also absorb terrible casualties among its ranks. When I've had the chance to ask the surviving veterans why they fought so hard, and sacrificed so much, they would always tell me that they were determined to prove not only their own loyalty to the United States, but by extension, prove that their Families were loyal Americans as well... despite how they had been treated.
The Military Intelligence Service was also comprised of thousands of Japanese Americans, both men and women, again many of them volunteering from the Internment Camps, who served in intelligence and communications roles to support America's campaigns in the Pacific. Rather predictably, very few Americans understood either the Japanese language or Japanese culture, and waging war against Imperial Japan across the enormous Asia-Pacific region... including all of Southeast Asia and much of China, made the language translation and intelligence contributions of these volunteers strategically vital for eventually compelling the Japanese government to unconditionally surrender to the U.S.and its Allies in 1945. These men and women who silently served in the Military Intelligence Service were decisive and irreplaceable for that victory.
And, of course, over America's history, thousands of similar stories can be told of the contributions and sacrifices of so many other Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in defending or strengthening America... whether in or out of uniform, whether in or out of Government. Collectively they are all a reminder of the strength and vibrancy of an America that, at its best, strives to harness and propel the virtues and strengths of all of its people, regardless of origins, religion, race, gender, and so on.
As I reflect on my own life and career as a Japanese American who chose a path of military service, I am struck by how incredibly fortunate I have been... not only because I was born in the United States, but because I was able to enjoy a highly successful Military Career that both challenged me and strengthened me in ways that I never imagined when a very much younger version of me first enlisted in 1981.
That's not to say that discrimination or prejudice were unknown to me. It is important to recall that, in the post-Vietnam era when I joined the Army, race-relations within the U.S. military were alarmingly bad, and often violent... particularly between black and white soldiers. I have very vivid memories of being warned, the very first time a young 2nd Lieutenant Nagata pulled the night duty called "Staff Duty Officer" in my infantry battalion in Korea, about the possibility of a violent melee in any of the barracks that I had to monitor until the morning. Nothing even remotely like that exists today, four decades later, and one need look no further than the fact we today have a black Air Force Chief of Staff and even a black Secretary of Defense to see how much things have improved. But, that also should not mean we can afford to rest on our laurels. Among the many things that we will all have cause to regret during the past year of a historic pandemic, we must also regret and deal with the mistreatment of minorities that we saw, all too vividly.
There were also my own experiences with bigotry and discrimination as I rose through the ranks since then that were sharp reminders for me that America still has work to do to realize the ideal expressed in our own Declaration of Independence, that all of us are "created equal." I did not always react as effectively as I should have, occasionally lapsing into either self-pity or fruitless anger. But, when I was at my best, I instead chose to use these unhappy experiences as motivations to just be better. Even all these years later, after one of those unhappy experiences, I can remember a small voice in my head saying, "okay, then I'm just going to prove that I'm better than these people that wish to discriminate against me..." That was often neither the easy nor the safe path to take, but I guess I was either too stubborn, or perhaps just too young, to see how difficult and risky that kind of reaction could be. But, in the end, I somehow managed to retire after 38 successful years in uniform, as a Lieutenant General, and as the most senior Asian American to serve in U.S. Special Operations Forces... so I guess it didn't turn out too bad.
So here we are... seeking to celebrate these two important observances while we also begin clawing our way out of the dark, COVID tunnel we've been in, and weighed down by the controversies, outrages, and scandals of the past year. We sometimes are inundated by pronouncements and reporting that seem to all be trying to remind us of how angry, or sad, or regretful, or frustrated we should be. It's so easy to focus on what brings us down or what divides us... and it is all too often the path of least resistance these days.
Yet, my own experiences that I've tried to share with you today cause me to choose a different path, and I commend this path to all of you. It is the path that combines recognizing how far we have progressed despite all of our remaining flaws and terrible failures. It is the path that accepts the risk of trying to be better; which also requires the courage of attempting solutions that may fail, but by learning from failure, as humans always have, we will learn to make future progress. And it is the path that allows us the opportunity, and encourages our ability, to occasionally lay down our burdens and toils for a brief time, to look back, and both remember and honor those who came before us. Those millions of our Citizens who offered up their very lives and fortunes for defending America and what it has tried to stand for since the American Revolution. And among and alongside those veterans, the millions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have contributed so much, often against great odds and deep-seated prejudices, toward building a better country and a more generous humanity.
Do I follow this path I've described for you perfectly? Of course not... I have feet of clay just like anyone else. But I remain determined to try... and I see today's event with you as a way of reminding myself that this is how even this retiree can still "give back" to the admittedly imperfect America that nonetheless has truly been the land-of-opportunity for me and my family.
It's been a privilege to speak to all of you on this important occasion, and I pray that fair fortune will smile on each and every one of you, and all your loved ones, in the months and years ahead. Thank you for listening to me, Godspeed to all of you, and though it may seem rather old fashioned to some, on this day, and in this place, where we are surrounded by the spirits so many of America's heroes... may an ever kind and watchful providence continue to steady our hands and guide our sometimes faltering feet, safeguard our children and the fruits of our labors, and protect and advance what I still believe is the greatest ongoing experiment in human liberty, the United States of America.
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.”
Wreath Presentation (Left to Right) Mitch Maki, CEO,Go For Broke National Education Center; Steve Moriyama, Commander,Veterans of Foreign Wars: 4th District Gardena Post 1961; James Nakamura, Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars: Kazuo Masuda Post 3670; Ken Hayashi, President, Veterans Memorial Court Alliance at the Japanese American National War Memorial Court, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA.
By Robert Horsting
The COVID-19 era has again impacted how we can recognize and honor those heroes whose lives we lost in military service to our nation. As many of the annual Los Angeles County and Orange County regional Memorial Day services have been canceled due to safety concerns, the 2021 Memorial Day observance at the Japanese American National War Memorial Court has grown to include a coalition of sponsors and representatives of the various communities. Two Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts: 4th District Gardena Post 1961, Kazuo Masuda Post 3670, and the Go For Broke National Education Center joined host Veterans Memorial Court Alliance in co-sponsoring this ceremony and presenting a floral wreath to mark this occasion.
Our keynote speaker, Mr. Wade Ishimoto, is a Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) Life Time Member, and we are grateful to JAVA President Gerald Yamada for his recommendation of him to provide a special message for this observance. To say Mr. Ishimoto is very accomplished in his service to his (and our) nation would be a vast understatement at best. Serving as this year's MC, Helen Ota introduced Mr. Ishimoto with the following: He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Joint Special Operations University. Mr. Ishimoto retired as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy as a Highly-Qualified Expert in 2012 and was previously the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict from 2004 to 2007. In addition, he is a retired Army Special Forces officer who served multiple tours in Vietnam and a charter member of the Delta Force and its Intelligence Officer. Mr. Ishimoto is also a Special Operations Command Commando Hall of Fame inductee. He has many accomplishments, and we invite you to learn more about him by visiting memorialcourtalliance.org.
Keynote Speaker: Wade Y. Ishimoto.
Wade's words were honest, raw, and contemplative. As he spoke of those friends he lost in conflicts, he reminded us that although the focus of Memorial Day is to honor the memory of those who didn't make it home, we cannot forget the families, friends, and comrades who bear the weight of this sacrifice. As one young Gold Star wife recently shared, "From that day on, every day was Memorial Day." In telling the story of those friends he lost, he also showed us how they will live on in our memories, and how in finally finding the inner strength to tell someone what he bore witness to, was the beginning of his own path to healing. In allowing us the privilege of hearing his experience he again does service to us all and for our nation.
For those returning women and men in military service, the importance of sharing even the slightest, seemingly inconsequential detail can bring some peace of mind for the family by confirming the strength of their love, giving clarity to the lack of details, and illustrating that sense of security made in the bond between comrades-in-arms. Thirteen years after the loss of his friend a soldier told the Gold Star wife the details of her husband's loss and moments when he saw him touch his chest where he fastened their picture and a bit of her dress fabric, which carried the scent of her perfume, to the inside of his shirt. Hearing this provided her with a loving and cherished memory. In sharing, he was able to shed some of the weight he had been caring and she noticed a relaxed change in posture as this was the first time had spoken to anyone about these memories.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk Fuchigami Jr and his wife McKenzie Fuchigami.His name was the most recent addition to the Japanese American National War Memorial
This story hit closer to home for the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance family, as the name of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk Fuchigami Jr. was recently added to the wall, joining that community of heroes. He was an Apache helicopter pilot who lost his life while supporting ground troops in Logar Province in Afghanistan on November 20, 2019. We again extend our condolences, thoughts, and prayers to his wife McKenzie, his family, friends, and comrades.
The ceremony was well attended by representatives from community organizations, including the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, the Japanese American National Museum, and a range of people active in community service. As each person was announced they placed a white carnation by one of the black granite walls inscribed with nearly 1,200 names of those of Japanese heritage who died in U.S. military service since 1898 on the USS Maine to the present conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
We hope that this Memorial Day will remind all Americans that their freedom came at a price, which was paid by others who answered the call to service.
Event Co-Chairs: David Miyoshi and Ken Hayashi, Veterans Memorial Court Alliance.
Video Available May 31, 2021, click here to watch or follow this link: https://www.memorialcourtalliance.org/memorial2021.
Left to Right: Nancy Yamada, Gerald Yamada, Minister Mukai, Wade Ishimoto and Mark Nakagawa. Photo: Courtesy of Gerald Yamada.
The Embassy of Japan announced that Minister Kenichiro Mukai will be leaving his position as the Minister, Head of Chancery, on June 13, 2021. He will immediately report to his next assignment as the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Japanese Mission to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, France.
In his position as Minister, Head of Chancery, Minister Mukai has reached out to the Japanese American community to strengthen relationships with Japanese American organizations in the DC area. JAVA has enjoyed a strong relationship with him during this tenure in DC.
In appreciation of his efforts, JAVA President Gerald Yamada presented him with the JAVA Veterans Advocate Award at a farewell dinner on May 17th at Patsy's American Restaurant, Tysons Corner, VA. The award inscription reads: “In recognition of your efforts as Minister, Head of Chancery, to build and cultivate a friendship between the Government of Japan and the Japanese American community. We are moved by your warmth, sincerity, and steadfast support of JAVA activities and Programs.” Yamada also presented Minister Mukai with an inscribed JAVA coin and another one for Mrs. Mukai, who was unable to attend. The dinner was attended by Minister Mukai, Wade Ishimoto, Mark Nakagawa, Nancy Yamada, and Gerald Yamada.