Rain or Shine:
Veterans Day 2020
2020 Veterans Day Wreath placed before the names of 800 Japanese American Nisei who were Killed-in-Action During World War II. National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, Washington, D.C. Photo: Nicole Yamada.
While many traditions have been upended this year, the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), along with the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF), kept to tradition and held its Annual Veterans Day Ceremony on Wednesday, November 11th, at the National Japanese American Memorial in Washington, DC. Instead of audience applause, heart and thumbs-up emojis floated over the JAVA Facebook feed, as watchers from far away locales such as Hawaii, Florida, and California signaled their gratitude for the sacrifices made by Nisei Veterans and their families.
JAVA President Gerald Yamada, National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, Washington, D.C. Photo: Nicole Yamada.
JAVA Vice President and U.S. Army Veteran, Howard High, served as emcee. He opened the program noting that the JAVA/NJAMF Veterans Day Program was selected by the Veterans Day National Committee from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as one of the “Veterans Day observances throughout the country to represent a fitting tribute to America’s heroes.” Howard High then introduced Gerald Yamada, JAVA President. Yamada welcomed viewers and noted that the day’s damp weather reminded him of his days in basic training in Fort Lewis, Washington. Yamada then reflected on the “huge debt of gratitude” owed to the Nisei soldiers who served during World War II. He continued,
“They served with valor. They amassed a heroic combat record, which is yet to be surpassed. They left us a legacy, from which we have benefited and will continue to benefit. They are an inspiration for all Americans. Their service kept America safe and free. Their service proved their loyalty, in spite of the prejudice, war hysteria, and distrust that confronted them. They truly are America’s heroes.
Let us also honor the 800 Nisei soldiers whose names are inscribed on the granite panels of this Memorial behind me. They died defending America’s freedoms -- not knowing whether their sacrifice would make a difference.
History would say to those 800 Nisei soldiers, ‘You can rest in peace. Your sacrifice did make a difference.’”
Rhianna Taniguchi, NJAMF Board Member & U.S. Army National Guard Veteran, National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, Washington, D.C. Photo: Nicole Yamada.
Next, Rhianna Taniguchi, NJAMF Board Member & U.S. Army National Guard Veteran addressed the virtual audience. After thanking veterans for their service, Ms. Taniguchi highlighted the remarkable diversity of the armed services and underscored the Nisei’s contribution to that diversity:
“The story of Japanese American military service during World War II reminds us that no matter what race you may be, what language you may speak, or what religion you may practice - all Americans have a place in our country and in our ranks. Those who know their story are well equipped to serve tomorrow’s veterans because they know that our nation and our military are strengthened by its diversity. It’s our responsibility and honor to share that history.”
Ms. Taniguchi then encouraged listeners to go beyond words and find a way to reach out to a veteran. She urged all to consider mentoring a veteran at work, donating money to a veteran organization, and learning about veteran issues like PTSD. Ms. Taniguchi finished by sharing her hope that on this Veterans Day, “each and every one of us can make a difference in the life of a veteran.”
U.S. Coast Guard RDML Andrew M. Sugimoto, Assistant Commandant for Intelligence, National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, Washington, D.C. Photo: Nicole Yamada.
Taking the podium, U.S. Coast Guard RDML Andrew M. Sugimoto, Assistant Commandant for Intelligence, opened by sharing how personally significant it was for him to finally visit the Memorial. He explained that his father was a camp internee in Arkansas before volunteering to fight in World War II. Other family members also served – an uncle in the 442nd, two uncles in the MIS, and some made parachutes and critical war supplies in camp. For Sugimoto, the “dedication, sacrifice and courage exhibited by those who served in our nations armed forces” felt particularly personal at the Memorial and offered that the Japanese word “giri” or moral devotion undergirds the sacrifices and spirit of service of those that came before us. The Rear Admiral continued that his sense of duty began when he took the oath of office. He added that the powerful words of the oath have been spoken by “17. 4 million Americans who have paused their personal pursuits, have said goodbye to loved ones…and have done so to ensure that every one of us still has the ability to speak our minds, follow religions of our choice, vote, love those who we want to, and to be secure in our inalienable rights.” Sugimoto emphasized that such liberties, even though they might be taken for granted “were secured by our veterans who chose to serve.”
RMDL Sugimoto suggested the Japanese word for gratitude or “kansha” was also fitting for Veterans Day. He then thanked the 17. 4 million veterans who “selflessly secured” American freedoms. He also thanked military families; “the husbands, the wives, and the kids, [who] each and every day provide the love and foundational support for service members to go out and honor that oath of office.” Sugimoto closed by suggesting the that the Memorial’s sculpture of the entwined golden cranes bound by barbed wire not only “embodies [his] family’s experiences, their need for communal support and interdependence on one another while struggling for freedom” but also represents the service members daily fight for freedom and need for support. Sugimoto told watchers that he is hopeful for the future, and that his “hope was brought by the very service of our nations Veterans and I am eternally grateful.”
JAVA Executive Council Member LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret), and RDML Sugimoto placed a wreath before the 800 names of Japanese Americans killed in action during World War II. National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, Washington, D.C. Photo: Nicole Yamada.
After the Rear Admiral’s words, JAVA Executive Council Member LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret), and RDML Sugimoto placed a wreath before the 800 names of Japanese Americans killed in action during World War II. The wreath laying was followed by a moment of silence for the fallen. Before ending the program, Howard High thanked the speakers and JAVA co-sponsor NJAMF for helping us to honor our Veterans and remember the sacrifices they have made to preserve our freedom.
Watch the JAVA Veterans Day Program Below
2019 Veterans Day. Photo: Ray Locker.
Join us Virtually for the Annual Veterans Day Ceremony
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
2:00 PM EST/ 1:00 PM CST
11:00 am PST / 9:00 am HST
RDML Andrew Sugimoto
U.S. Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Intelligence
Rhianna Taniguchi, NJAMF Board Member & ANG Veteran
Howard High, USA, JAVA
RDML Sugimoto to Speak Veterans Day Program
RDML Sugimoto, USCG, Assistant Commandant for Intelligence
In keeping with its long tradition, JAVA will hold a Veterans Day Program on Wednesday, November 11th at the National Japanese American Memorial in Washington, DC. The National Japanese American Memorial Foundation will co-sponsor the program again this year. RDML Andrew Sugimoto will be the distinguished speaker for the Veterans Day Program. He serves as the U.S. Coast Guard’s Assistant Commandant for Intelligence and leads the efforts of more than 1,100 intelligence professionals who conduct the service’s intelligence programs, to include collection activities, analysis and production, geospatial intelligence, counterintelligence, cryptology and critical IT and security functions. Rhianna Taniguchi, an Army National Guard Veteran, is a member of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation board and will also speak. Ms. Taniguchi works as a digital marketing and public relations strategist at iQ 360.
The Ceremony will start at 2:00 pm EST / 11:00 am PST / 9:00 am HST rain or shine. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the program will be livestreamed via Facebook. Viewers can go to the JAVA website at JAVA-US.org and watch from JAVA’s Facebook page or click on the Veterans Day Program webpage. Members, friends and interested persons are encouraged to watch the program online via Facebook rather than attending in person.
JAVA’s Veterans Day Program has been selected by the Veterans Day National Committee, which is a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, as one of the “Veterans Day observances throughout the country that represents a fitting tribute to America’s heroes.” You can find the listing of all 2020 Veterans Day Regional Sites on the Department of Veterans Affairs at https://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/docs/2020-Veterans-Day-Regional-Sites.pdf.
A Veterans Affairs Veterans Day Teachers Guide can be found by clicking here.
Veteran Affairs Letter Designation NJAM as Regional Veterans Day Site
Certificate Designating NJAM as Regional Veterans Day Site