Los Angeles – November 10, 2013. The Japanese American Museum in Los Angeles celebrated to opening of a new exhibit entitled, “Go For Broke: Japanese American Soldiers Fighting on Two Fronts.” The exhibit is part of an extensive collection held by writer and military historian, Eric Saul.
Saul was present at the ceremony and delivered the following speech:
Go For Broke:
Japanese American Soldiers Fighting on Two Fronts
I think we all felt that we had an obligation to do the best we could and make a good record. So that when we came back we can come back with our heads high and say, ‘Look, we did as much as anybody else for this country and we proved our loyalty; and now we would like to take our place in the community just like anybody else and not as a segregated group of people.’ And I think it worked.
– Nisei solder, Camp Shelby, Mississippi
Hawaii is our home; the United States our country… We know but one loyalty and that is to the Stars and Stripes.
We are gathered here today to talk about a group of men. Men who fought for their country and for their community. They were fighting two wars: a war against prejudice and racism at home and a war to literally save the world from tyranny. It has now been more than 70 years since the first Nisei committed themselves to the fight for democracy.
Many of these Nisei have passed from this world and are no longer here with us to tell us their story. Some of you Nisei are in the audience today, and I will be addressing my remarks today to you.
You were among the 1,550 brave young men who, in the words of President Harry S. Truman, “fought not only the enemy, but fought prejudice, and won.”
Who were you? First of all, you were Americans. You happened to be of Japanese Ancestry. You were called Nisei. You were second generation, born in the United States. Most were born in the 1920s.
Where were you from? You were from Hawaii, Ohau, Maui, Kawai. You were also from California, Oregon and Washington. You grew up on Honolulu, Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, the Paloma District, Fresno, Seattle, Portland and in hundreds of small farming towns in the Western United States. You lived in the Little Tokyos and Nihonmachis of the big cities on the West Coast. In Hawaii, you grew up on plantations, where you toiled in the hot sun, helping to harvest and process the sugar cane.
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