Serving Our Country: Japanese American Women in the Military during World War II

Serving Our Country: Japanese American Women in the Military during World War II

Serving Our Country: Japanese American Women in the Military during World War II

Serving Our Country: Japanese American Women in the Military during World War II

Excerpt

Years of strained relations between the United States and Japan reached a climax on the morning of December 7, 1941, when Japan launched a successful air attack on Pearl Harbor and other nearby military installations in Hawaii, including Ewa, Kaneohe Bay, and Bellows, Hickam, and Wheeler Fields. This attack left the American government in a state of shock: four U.S. battleships, three destroyers, and four small ships were obliterated. Some 288 American aircraft were damaged, and more than twenty-four hundred American lives were lost. By contrast, only the crew members of twenty-nine Japanese planes suffered casualties.

On December 8, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt went before a joint session of Congress and called for a declaration of war against Japan. Radio stations throughout the country broadcast the stirring words of the American president as he called December 7 “a day that would live in infamy.” For Americans, the war was defined as a struggle against the governments of Axis nations—a battle against fascism, Nazism, and totalitarianism. But the war was also an event that would expose the paradox of American democracy and the injustices of American racism, and thereby lead to social change.

Virtually all Americans held the ideal of democracy in high esteem. Therefore it is not surprising that, as the United States prepared for combat, men and women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds answered the War Department's call to military service. Ironically, some of the people who supported the nation's war efforts were denied the very rights they were willing to fight and die for. Nonetheless, they contributed to the nation's war effort, in the hope of removing barriers to inclusion.

Today the World War II service of racial minorities and of women in the U.S. military has almost been forgotten. A number of scholarly works in recent years recall the contributions made by African American men and women to the U.S. war effort. Scholarly books, articles, and documentaries about the Tuskegee Airmen, the 6888th Central Postal Battalion, the Triple Nickles, and . . .

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