Japanese-Americans Deserve Recognition

By Fales, John | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 29, 1996 | Go to article overview

Japanese-Americans Deserve Recognition


Fales, John, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I read with interest your column of May 20, 1996, in The Washington Times and highlighted again in the National Weekly of The Times about the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project. I want to bring to the attention of you and your readers another patriotic endeavor under way in the nation's capital. The National Japanese American Memorial Foundation is embarked on a project to build a memorial to commemorate the contributions of all Japanese-Americans during World War II.

This includes the more than 33,000 who served in the U.S. armed forces. The 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team fought with honor in the European theater and became the most decorated unit of its size. More than 6,000 served with distinction with the Military Intelligence Service in the Pacific as linguists.

Although many JapaneseAmericans were unjustly treated by the government because of wartime hysteria and prejudice, we want to show that there is no rancor in our hearts and that then as now we are proud and loyal Americans.

Individuals, organizations, foundations or corporations interested in supporting our cause can make tax-deductible contributions to the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, 2828 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Suite 305, Washington, D.C., 20007. For further information, (202) 965-0691.

George M. Wakiji

Executive director, NJAMF

Dear George: The sarge knows the contributions you have made to our great nation, and, in your name, he's donating $100 to this endeavor. I also urge all veterans, as well as veterans service organizations and their membership, to support this patriotic memorial.

Stories of the heroism of Japanese-Americans during World War II are numerous and impressive. For instance, when a call went out for Americans of Japanese ancestry to volunteer for service as a demonstration of their loyalty, more than 3,000 men from Hawaii and 1,500 men from the mainland immediately responded. Many of the mainland volunteers were from families in internment centers, behind barbed wire.

In battles in Italy and elsewhere, the 100th met every military objective, overcoming enemy mine fields, tanks and artillery. They made bayonet charges, fought off countless counterattacks, and held the high ground. Their ferocity in action and determination to win against all odds led to their having such high casualties that they earned the nickname "The Purple Heart Battalion."

Their fame was dearly won, and more than 1,000 Purple Hearts were awarded during this period. Maj. James Gillespie, who commanded the 100th, stated: "They call themselves just plain Americans. . . . They have earned the right. . . . They are just as American as I am." The men of the 100th had proved that the loyalty of the U.S. soldiers of Japanese ancestry was beyond question.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

In the early 1970s, a new personnel look, affirmative action, was coming into vogue. Sensing the impact affirmative action was already having in its short lifetime, Congress modified a 1972 veterans law to include this new concept with the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. …

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