Memorial Day Service
Veterans Day 2020
View from Columbarium, Arlington National Cemetery, November 15, 2020.
Against a backdrop of stunning autumnal foliage, the rescheduled 72nd Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Day Service was held on Sunday, November 15, 2020. And while there were reminders of changes brought about by the pandemic such as the limited audience and the absence of a Spark Matsunaga student, the same feeling of awe and solemnness was ever-present as speakers honored the memory and sacrifice of fallen soldiers and paid tribute to Key Kobayashi, MIS veteran, and JAVA’s inaugural vice president, who began the program in 1948.
NJAMF Board Member LTC Al Goshi, USA (Ret) at the 72nd Annual Memorial Day Service, November 15, 2020 (Rescheduled).
Janice Nakano Faden, Co-President, Japanese American Citizens League, the first speaker, called to mind the Nisei fighting in WWII, who “went beyond the call of duty and helped define America at its best.” She asked listeners to consider the many ways they are connected to the legacy of the Nisei and each other, and to use that connection to strengthen their resolve to “make the country we love, even better than before.” The next speaker, Gerald Yamada, President of the Japanese American Veterans Association, reminded listeners that soldiers who lost their lives “came from different backgrounds to serve, but they had one thing in common. They believed in America.” He highlighted that, Japanese American soldiers in WWII belief in American ideals was particularly remarkable in that they fought for freedom while their own families were unjustly incarcerated: 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.”
Following Gerald Yamada, LTC Allen Goshi, USA (Ret), representing the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, LTC Allen Goshi, USA (Ret), offered the words of Joshua Chamberlin, a Regimental Commander in the Battle of Gettysburg, “The power of noble deeds is to be preserved and passed on to the future” for reflection. Goshi stated that along with partner Japanese American organizations, NJAMF is “committed to the call of action, the “passed on” clause, of purposely passing on the lessons” of sacrifice and patriotism of the 100th, 442nd and MIS and their families. Goshi ended by underscoring the importance of “passing on” the knowledge and lessons of the experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II. The “passing on,” Goshi emphasized, not only honors their legacy, it also instructs us how to make America a better place, one in which our leaders’ decisions are “informed by education.”
Keynote speaker CAPT Cynthia Macri, MC, USN (Ret) at the 72nd Annual Memorial Day Service, November 15, 2020 (Rescheduled).
In her keynote address, CAPT Cynthia Macri, MC, USN (Ret) shared that after Pearl Harbor, her grandfather was arrested and sent to a U.S. Prison of War camp in Louisiana, and her father was sent to an internment camp in Arkansas. Her father later served in the Army Military Intelligence Service in Korea, while a cousin was a highly decorated Vietnam veteran. For CAPT Macri, a military scholarship provided a path to medical school, a path that led to 35 years of service in the Navy. A career, Macri observed, that was made possible because of the efforts of those who came before her. “Honoring those who came before us is something hardwired…and as a Japanese American service member, I feel like every day I am privileged to remember the legacy of the 442nd, 100th, and MIS who paved that way for the integration of army not by race but also by gender. I would not be here today if not for the actions and heroism” of the Japanese Americans and other segregated units she stated. CAPT Macri then related an incident that occurred while she was volunteering in her Navy uniform at the overflow room at the Congressional Gold Medal awards, one that she has turned over in her mind ever since. She recalled a “distinguished-looking man came out of the elevator…was wearing the Medal of Honor around his neck.” The room was packed and hard to maneuver in so she made her way over to him and offered her arm. As she guided him toward the front of the room to find a seat, he stroked her sleeve and said, “Imagine…we would never have imagined a female, Japanese American Navy Captain when we were fighting over in Europe.” The exchange struck CAPT Macri. “I have to live that legacy because that’s what I owe these men who fought and died for us, who gave us the opportunity and privilege to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces,” she told listeners. She went on to point out that her work on the Diversity and Inclusion strategy for the Navy was in many ways part of the legacy the Nisei soldiers left – that we are more alike than different and to focus on all the things that unite us. In closing, CAPT Macri remarked that President Truman’s words to the 442nd when he addressed them at the Ellipse in 1946, in many ways remain our marching orders going forward, "You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice – and you have won. Keep up that fight, and we will continue to win – to make this great Republic stand for just what the Constitution says it stands for: the welfare of all the people all the time."
Following CAPT Macri. Turner Kobayashi took the stage. He explained that each year as part of the Memorial Day Service, a Japanese American laid to rest in Arlington is honored and his father, LT Key Kobayashi, founder of the Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery was the honoree. Turner recounted his father’s childhood in Fresno, CA, his years at Berkeley until Executive Order 9066 forced his relocation to Gila River War Relocation Camp; his work in the Military Intelligence Service, his time Japan where he met his future wife Kyoko; his completion of his undergraduate and graduate degrees, and his career at the Library of Congress. Turner then related that Key was a devoted husband and father to seven children; a several time PTA President, Kiwanis Club, JACL-DC officer, JAVA founding member, participated in the Commission for Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, and Fairfax Little League Baseball officer and longtime volunteer. The titles, however, belied Key’s contributions. Recognizing the dedication to Little League and efforts to bring Japanese and Taiwanese teams to the Little League World Series, Fairfax County baseball park where his children played in Jefferson Village. With love and admiration in his voice, Turner closed with these words: “Here’s to the memory of my mom’s husband, our dad, our children’s grandfather and great grandfather, a community leader, fighter for civil rights, coach, volunteer, military officer, patriotic citizen, dear friend and colleague and a great man, Key Kobayashi."
Following the tribute, Michelle Amano gave a lovely reading of the Japanese American Creed. Bringing the service to a close, military service members and veterans gather in front of the Columbarium and a bugler sounded Taps, a final call to remember the veterans who gave their lives in service to our Country.
72nd Annual Memorial Day Service, Columbarium, Arlington National Cemetery, November 15, 2020.
72nd Annual Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery
November 15, 2020
Remarks by Gerald Yamada
JAVA President Gerald Yamada at the 72nd Annual Memorial Day Service, November 15, 2020 (Rescheduled).
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.”
Watch the 72nd Annual Memorial Day Arlington National Cemetery Service
Tribute to Lt Key Kobayashi, MIS Veteran and Founding JAVA Member
November 15, 2020
Remarks by Key Kobayashi
Turner Kobayashi at the 72nd Annual Memorial Day Service, November 15, 2020 (Rescheduled).
By Turner Kobayashi
11/15/20 is today’s date. Numbers have a way of working in mysterious ways. My father, Key Kiyokazu Kobayashi was born on March 11, 1922 in Fresno, California. Both his parents passed before he turned the age of four and he was raised by family and family friends. He grew up in Fresno, Turlock and eventually graduated from Alameda High School. He got accepted to the University of California, Berkeley and was an excited and avid student. In the second semester of his sophomore year, he learned that Executive Order 9066 was signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, this order authorized the evacuation of all persons deemed a threat to national security from the West Coast to relocation centers further inland. Little did he know or understand the road that laid ahead.
He was moved from the college campus to temporary housing, then to an assembly center in Fresno before finally arriving at the Gila River Relocation Center in Arizona. It was an eye opening experience for a 21 year old young man. He adjusted and adapted as best as he could, he joined the camp baseball team to give him the chance to travel outside the barbed wire fences to play other camps. He realized that the only way to actually leave the camp was either for the war to end or for him to join the US military. He chose to join the US Army. Due to his bilingual skills, he entered the Military Intelligence Service and achieved the rank of Lieutenant.
Upon one of his deployments, he meets my mom in Tokyo. Kyoko Toyoda was a Japanese national at the time, having lost her father, older brother and sister to the horrific Tokyo fire bombings. I can only imagine what my grandmother was thinking when a young man wearing a United States army uniform comes up and asks her for her daughter’s hand in marriage after all the suffering she had experienced.
Our dad came back to the states with a young bride that spoke no English, two small children at the time and went back to finish his schooling. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Science and later went on and received his Masters degree from Columbia University in International Relations.
But things weren’t easy. There was still quite a bit of anti-Japanese sentiment after the war and finding a job was very challenging. Fortunately, some of his military buddies would vouch for him and he was able to get a job at the US Patent Office and then he moved over to the Library of Congress, where he spent the bulk of his career as the Assistant Head of the Japanese section.
He became the father of seven children, four girls, three boys. My mom became a proud naturalized US citizen and eventually had her own distinguished career with the US government.
Our dad was active, very active. He was the President and member of our elementary, intermediate, and high school PTAs. He was a proud, long serving member and officer of the Kiwanis Club. He was an active officer and member of the DC chapter of the JACL. He was one of the original members of JAVA. He worked on The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. He was a long time volunteer and officer for Little League Baseball as their Far East Liaison Representative. He was instrumental in bringing the Japanese and Taiwan teams to the Little League World Series, even acting as team interpreter and representative for ABC Wide World of Sports coverage. A year after his death, Fairfax County named the baseball park that my brothers and sisters played on at Jefferson Village in Falls Church after him: The Key Kobayashi Baseball Field. Our Field of Dreams.
We are here today in part because of our dad. He began a memorial service back in 1948 with other JACL members like Mike Masaoka and Ira Shimasaki for an annual Memorial Day Service here at Arlington National Cemetery. He was the chairman of this event for 44 consecutive years until the year of his death in 1992. My family and I have been attending this event for many years. For the last 28, years I have had the honor to carry on this tradition as chairman of this event. It has been running for 72 years now, the longest continually running service by an outside organization in the history of Arlington National Cemetery.
It was on 11/15, November 15th in 1992, that changed our family’s lives. It was this day 28 years ago, that my mom’s husband of 40 years at that time, our dad died suddenly and unexpectantly of a heart attack. It was an incredibly sad day. I miss him to this day as I know my mom and brothers and sisters do.
However, this story does not end on this sad note. Just over a month ago, on October 14th, my only child and daughter, Kara had a son, my and Mary Kay’s first grandchild, a first great grandson to my mom and dad. His name is Cody Kiyokazu Divakinja, after his mom’s grandfather, her dad’s father, her grandmother’s husband. Ironically, the time of birth was 11:15. As they say, as one chapter closes, another one opens.
Here’s to the memory of my mom’s husband, our dad, our children’s grandfather and great grandfather, a community leader, a fighter for civil rights, a coach, a volunteer, military officer, patriotic citizen, your friend and colleague and a great man: Key Kiyokazu Kobayashi. Love you Dad.
To read Turner Kobayashi's Memorial Day Greeting click here.
72nd Annual Arlington National Cemetery
Memorial Day Service
Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium
CAPT Cynthia Macri, MC, USN (Ret)
Executive Council, JAVA
LT Key Kobayashi, USA, MIS Veteran
Janice Nakano Faden
Co-President, Japanese American Citizens League, DC Chapter
President, Japanese American Veterans Association
LTC Allen Goshi, USA (Ret)
Board Member, National Japanese American Memorial Foundation
Japanese American Citizens League, DC Chapter
The Japanese American Veterans Association
The National Japanese American Memorial Foundation
Date: Sunday, November 15, 2020
Time: 2:00 pm EST / 11:00 am PST / 9:00 am HST
Watch: Livestreamed on JAVA Facebook Feed