By Dale Ikeda
Presented at Kochi University on July 1, 2011
Mina-san, Konnichiwa. My wife, Debbie, and I are pleased to join you at Kochi University. It is an honor to address members of the Kochi University community. Thank you. As Co-Chair of the Fresno-Kochi Sister Cities Committee, I thank the people of Kochi Prefecture for being warm and gracious hosts of the Grassroots Summit. We are having a wonderful time. Arigato gozaimasu.
My topic is “The Japanese American Story of Internment and Redress.” The main focus of my remarks and the photos relate to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. It is a story not well known even in America. Please raise your hand if you knew that the American government imprisoned over 100,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry, mostly American-born citizens, for three years during World War II.
The Central California District of the Japanese American Citizens League will award replica Congressional Gold Medals to local Japanese American World War II veterans at the 2012 Day of Remembrance Luncheon on February 19. The local ceremony follows a national medal ceremony held in Washington D.C. last month.
“This year’s Day of Remembrance will pay special tribute to all our Nisei veterans who bravely risked their lives on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific to defend our country,” says Dale Ikeda, event co-chair. “Because many of our local veterans could not travel to the Capitol for the national ceremony, we wanted to take the opportunity here at home to pay tribute to their courage and patriotism.”
The Day of Remembrance is a national observance remembering Executive Order 9066, which led to the forced internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Fresno County was the only location that had two temporary assembly centers where internees were held before being sent to permanent internment camps. The Pinedale Assembly Center held 4,832 internees from outside of the area. The Fresno Assembly Center held 5,344 internees who were mostly from the Central Valley.
Veterans or their spouses will receive replica medals identical to those awarded at the Washington D.C. ceremony. A grant from the Nisei Farmers League is covering the cost of the medals and other expenses for the veterans. The Day of Remembrance will be held at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building on Fourth Street and is co-sponsored by the Clovis Veterans Memorial District.
The obverse of the medal depicts the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and includes the 442nd RCT’s motto “Go for Broke”. The reverse depicts the insignias of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service. The 442nd RCT, which later included the 100th Battalion, became the most highly decorated military unit in U.S. history. The MIS translated and interpreted Japanese military communications in the Pacific.
The local planning committee is working with the National Veterans Network and other organizations to locate Nisei veterans from the Central Valley. While the national replica medals were awarded specifically to the 442nd, 100th and MIS, Ikeda emphasizes that the local event will honor all Nisei World War II vets, including those who served in the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) and Women’s Army Corps (WAC). Family members of veterans who have passed away can contact Ikeda for more information at 313-9322 or email@example.com.
Tickets are $40. A veteran and a guest, or a spouse of a veteran and a guest, are invited to attend free of charge. A reception will start at noon, followed by lunch and the medal ceremony at 1 pm. Reservation deadline is February 12, 2012. To RSVP, contact Bobbi Hanada at 434-1662.