Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol. 4, No. 60, May 1, 2023

U.S. Representative Chu Introduces Bill to Award Congressional Gold Medal to Americans Who Rescued Holocaust Refugees

L-R:  Howard High, Gerald Yamada, Rep. Chu, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Seagraves-Fierst, Eric Rubin, Former Speaker Pelosi. Source: https://www.c-span.org/video/?527462-1/representatives-pelosi-chu-honoring-holocaust-rescuers (13:51). Screenshot by Howard High.                                               

WASHINGTON, D.C.   A press release issued by Representative Judy Chu’s office on April 18, 2023 said “In honor of Yom Ha Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Chu and Historian Eric Saul held a program at the front of the US Capitol Building to mark the introduction of legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to American individuals who were active in aiding and rescuing Jews and other refugees during the Holocaust, often in the face of U.S. opposition to their resettlement.  Participating in the assembly on this sunny Spring day were former house speaker Nancy Pelosi and Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Seagraves-Fierst, great granddaughter of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.

“Among the officials who were honored at this program for assisting the Jewish refugees were Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States; Henry Morgenthau, Jr., former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury; Harold Ickes, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior; and Congressman Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., of Maryland, the father of Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi.

 “Across the federal government, officials denied repeated requests to welcome and resettle Jews and other refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and its territories to the United States. In 1939, Congress rejected proposals to offer asylum to 20,000 Jewish children. That same year, the U.S. State Department and President Franklin Roosevelt refused asylum to Jewish refugees aboard the SS St. Louis, forcing them to return to Europe where 254 were killed in the Holocaust. Despite the official stance of the U.S. government, American rescue and relief organizations were responsible between 1933 and 1945 for saving many thousands of Jews and other refugees from being forced into concentration camps and facing likely death.

 “This historic legislation will for the first time ever give congressional recognition to the Americans who boldly took action to rescue Jews and refugees from almost certain death during the Holocaust,” said Rep. Chu.

In the course of introducing Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Seagraves-Fierst to speak about her great grandmother Eleanor, Saul said “I invited Japanese Americans to this event because of the all Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s rescue of Jewish inmates at a Dachau, Germany extermination camp  and Eleanor’s friendship with ethnic Japanese people whose loyalty was questioned during WW 2 and 120,000 ethnic Japanese residents, 2/3 of them US citizens, living along the Pacific coast were uprooted from their homes and placed in internment camps.  Eleanor did not agree with the government’s internment measures and felt the Japanese issue should have been handled another way.  When Saul asked Japanese Americans in the audience to raise their hands there was a generous applause for Mrs. Roosevelt "  

Gerald Yamada, President of JAVA, offered the following remarks after the event.  “The US government used the attack on Pearl Harbor to promote overt prejudice against Japanese Americans.  Although the vast majority of Americans supported the government’s discriminatory policies against Japanese Americans, we must remember those who had the personal courage and compassion to try to right that wrong.  They were beacons of light that gave us hope that our rights would be restored.  Eleanor Roosevelt is one of those brave Americans.  She used her position as First Lady to visit internment camps and console wounded Nisei soldiers.  She is also one of the Americans who helped rescued Holocaust refugees during World War II.   I support the pending legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to those individual Americans who showed similar compassion to the Holocaust refugees.”

See an article immediately below on Mrs. Roosevelt’s relationship with ethnic Japanese during WW II. 

[EdNote:Thank you, Howard High, for your leadership and research.   Anticipating e-Advocate’s news interest in the Capitol Hill event, on his initiative, Howard sent the C-SPAN video coverage and appropriate photo.  When he was told we plan to run the story, he facilitated communications with C-SPAN to gain permission for republishing. Thank you, Howard!] 

Eleanor Roosevelt Applauded Hawaii’s Handling of Ethnic Japanese Issue During WW II; Critical of Western Defense Command’s

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.

JAVA Research Team

Washington, DC.  On February 19, 1942, the White House issued Executive Order 9066 which authorized the War Department to uproot all ethnic Japanese from two military zones and forcibly detain them in military-guarded camps for the duration of WW II.  LTG John DeWitt, Commanding General, Western Defense Command, on 6-10 days notice, uprooted 112,000 ethnic Japanese and placed them in internment camps, guarded by sentries on the ground and from guard towers with machine guns.   When LTG Delos C. Emmons arrived in Hawaii to serve as military governor and with orders to place all ethnic Japanese on the island of Molokai, he was advised by Colonel Kendall Fielder, Army Chief of Intelligence, and Robert Shivers, FBI agent in charge for Hawaii, that 1,500 security suspects were detained and the rest could be controlled under martial law.  Emmons conducted his own review and arrived at the same conclusion. Despite President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s repeated requests to incarcerate ethnic Japanese on the island of Molokai, Emmons stonewalled Washington until Japan was no longer able to invade Hawaii.  After WW II ended, a presidential commission, mandated by the US Congress, declared the internment was not necessary, that it was caused by war hysteria, racial prejudice and the failure of political leadership.  Congress provided reparations to living former internees and President Ronald Reagan offered a formal apology.

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt endorsed Hawaii’s non-internment decision.  Hung Wai Ching, University of Hawaii, 1928, a recipient of a master’s degree in divinity from Yale University, Captain US Army (Reserve), served for many years as a social worker with the YMCA near the University of Hawaii.  He came to know and associate with university and high school youths of Hawaii’s many ethnicities, especially Japanese Americans.  He counseled them in their career, education, and personal pursuits and earned their respect and confidence.  While operating at this level, Ching, at the same time, also associated with the higher working level executives and educators such as Shigeo Yoshida, an educator, Colonel Kendall Fielder, head of Army intelligence, and Robert Shivers, FBI agent in charge for Hawaii.   From this platform he persuaded 170 Nisei University of Hawaii ROTC cadets, who were discharged from the program because they were ethnic Japanese, to petition for the creation of the Varsity Victory Volunteers (VVV), which served with the 34th Combat Engineers at Schofield Barracks to build barracks, bridges, roads, and other defense projects.  Ching also laid the groundwork for the activation of an all-volunteer 442nd Regimental Combat Team to fight in Europe.  Also, having the confidence of working-level executives and knowing a large number of Nisei men and women personally, Ching got many names removed from the FBI security suspect list.  He vouched for their loyalty.  

Shigeo Yoshida (left) and Hung Wai Ching (right).

When the 442nd soldiers from Hawaii were shipped to Mississippi via San Francisco in April 1943, Ching was sent there to ensure no trouble occurred between the Nisei soldiers and General DeWitt’s anti Japanese policy.  He went to Mississippi to ensure no racial incidents with Mississippi residents occurred.  After completing this assignment, Ching, in his capacity as a member of the Council for Interracial Unity’s Morale Division, which served as the bridge between the civilian community and military, visited the White House where he first met with Mrs. Roosevelt on May 6, 1943 and subsequently with the President on May 9, 1943 for 25 minutes.  Mrs. Roosevelt introduced Ching to the President, did not stay for the meeting, but returned when she expected the meeting to end. The President told Ching he was under pressure to place ethnic Japanese on the island of Molokai, was pleased with the closure of Japanese language schools, and wanted Japanese internees to resettle in various locations in America after leaving camp.  Ching briefed the President on the work of the Inter Racial Unity Committee, the success of the military government, the Varsity Victory Volunteers, effectiveness of Hawaii’s multi racial support to the war effort, the deployment of the 100th Battalion to the war front and 442nd in training. The President offered Ching a cigarette and light.  Ching saved the butt.   Ching also met with Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes, members of US Congress, editors and journalists. 

During Mrs. Roosevelt’s brief stopover in Honolulu in late September 1943 enroute home from her South Pacific Australia and New Zealand trip, COL Fielder arranged for members of the Morale Committee, led by Ching and Yoshida, to meet Mrs. Roosevelt at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.  Ching and Yoshida explained there has been no case of sabotage or collaboration with Japan by ethnic Japanese.  They also discussed the 100th Battalion combat role in Italy, the 442nd Regimental combat Team in training, consisting of volunteers from Hawaii and the mainland, and the 3,000 Nisei linguists’ assignment in the Asia Pacific region, over one half of them from Hawaii, fighting soldiers of their parents homeland, and another 4,000 linguists serving in stateside locations and in training.   They also discussed the effectiveness of the civilian role in Hawaii martial law security system and Hawaii’s racial make-up and inter-racial relationships as reflected by the attending Morale committee members consisting of various ethnic representatives.  Displaying visible pleasure with the briefing, Mrs. Roosevelt said she would report what she had heard to the President.  When bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor our nation can bestow, was presented to Nisei veterans in Hawaii two medals were presented to CAPT Hung Wai Ching, an American patriot.  [EdNote. The above presentation was drawn largely from Tom Coffman’s Inclusion: How Hawaii protected its Japanese Americans from mass incarceration, Franklin Odo’s No Sword to Bury, research by Nisei historian Dwight Gates and the internet.]

Mrs. Roosevelt meets wounded Nisei in the Pacific.  During Mrs. Roosevelt’s five weeks visit to 17 battle areas in the Pacific plus New Zealand and Australia in Summer 1943 she met a wounded Nisei, whose family was confined in the Gila River, AZ internment camp.  S/Sgt Kazuo Komoto was shot in his knee by enemy sniper in the Solomons, was treated in a field hospital, then a hospital ship, then hospitalization in Fiji.  There were two hospitals in Fiji, one with 943 beds and other with 843.  Mrs. Roosevelt visited every hospital and every hospital bed to talk to the wounded.  In his book Bridge to the Sun, pages 118-120, Bruce Henderson, New York Times best-selling author of Sons and Soldiers, discusses Komoto’s meeting with Mrs. Roosevelt.    “When she arrived at Komoto’s ward, the doctor on duty made a point to bring her to his bedside for an introduction.  Komoto quickly sat up in bed.  She shook his hand warmly.  He beamed thinking how Mrs. Roosevelt looked just like her pictures in the newspapers and newsreels.  Her blue eyes were alight with interest, and a Red Cross cap sat atop her silver hair worn in a small bun.  She asked how he was feeling and they chatted.  She put him at ease with the little things she said in the manner of a mother and in the voice that was high-pitched and yet soft and affectionate.  When she asked if there was any message she could take back to the President, Komoto screwed up his courage to tell her what was on his mind, even if he got in trouble later.  After all, he’d already been shot, what could the brass do to him that would hurt any worse?

S/Sgt Kazuo Komoto and Mrs Roosevelt at US Army hospital, Fiji, South Pacific. Photo: Courtesy of Bruce Henderson, author Bridge to the Sun.

“Mrs. Roosevelt, my parents and little brothers are in a camp back home because they’re Japanese.  And I am out here getting shot.  Something isn’t right.  I wasn’t even allowed to visit them before going overseas”.

‘’It still stung that he had been refused a travel pass to visit his family after his MISLS graduation because no Japanese  -- not even Nisei servicemen – were being allowed to travel on their own in the western states.

“Mrs. Roosevelt told Komoto she had recently visited an internment camp. “I can tell you they are being well taken care of.” she said.

“But it is a raw deal” said Komoto.  “They’re locked up, lost their home” – he was surprised to hear his voice cracking. – “while I am here.”

“Our president is doing his best to correct any wrongs” she said, not departing from the official script, even though she had her own concerns about the mass internment policy.  In fact, she was on record as favoring a new policy of releasing those individuals as jobs could be lined up for them outside the western states.    While not explaining this to Komoto, she assured him she would convey his strong feelings to the President.

Does she really mean that?  He wanted to believe that she did. “The Doctor spoke up forcefully.   “Mrs. Roosevelt, our Nisei soldiers like the sergeant are facing two enemies.  One enemy is out here shooting at them,.   The other one is back home”. “She seemed taken aback by the doctor’s bold assertion.”  “Guess I better look both ways”, Komoto said, “and duck next time.”  He had taken her off the hook, and Mrs. Roosevelt chuckled.”

 From the hospital in Fiji, Komoto was transferred to a stateside hospital.  After he was fully recuperated he returned to the Pacific war In Spring 1944. He served in bombers of the XX Bomber Command to intercept enemy fighter communications with their ground stations.  In late 1944 Komoto was one of the two MIS team leaders of the MARS Task Force for the invasion on northern Burma to defeat the Japanese Army.  In Fall 1945, Komoto landed in Atsugi, Japan to assist in the demobilization, war crimes trials, and Occupation of Japan.

Mrs. Roosevelt visits Gila River internment camp.   The following introduction, written by Dr. Greg Robinson, Université du Québec, Montréal, Canada, a friend of JAVA, is copied from a National Park Service write up found on the internet.   “On April 23, 1943 Eleanor Roosevelt visited the internment camp at Gila River and immediately started campaigning to assist confined Japanese Americans. In her syndicated daily newspaper column, she lauded the efforts of the inmates to grow their own food, ameliorate the harsh desert climate and the ugliness of the hastily constructed camps, and police and educate themselves. In an interview published in the Los Angeles Times three days after her visit, she was more frank in her comments. She described the inmates as living in conditions that were not indecent, but "certainly not luxurious," and added, "I wouldn't like to live that way." She strongly recommended that the camps be closed as soon as possible. "[T]he sooner we get the young [born in USA] Japanese out of the camps the better. Otherwise, if we don't look out, we will create another Indian problem." It was her most open public expression of opposition during the war.”

Eleanor Roosevelt visiting the Gila River Internment Camp. Left is Dillon S. Myer, Director of the War Relocation Authority (WRA). U.S. Photo: NARA.

Gila River, April 23, 1943.  In her speech to the residents at the Gila River Internment Camp, Sacaton, AZ, Mrs. Roosevelt said “I can well understand the bitterness of people who have lost loved ones at the hands of the Japanese military authorities, and we know that the totalitarian philosophy, whether it is in Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy or in Japan, is one of cruelty and brutality. We have made mistakes in our immigration policy. We have no choice but to try to correct our past mistakes and I hope that the recommendations of the staff of the War Relocation Authority, who have come to know individually most of the Japanese Americans in these various camps, will be accepted. Little by little as they are checked, Japanese Americans are being allowed on request to leave the camps and start independent and productive lives again. Whether you are a taxpayer in California or in Maine, it is to your advantage, if you find one or two Japanese American families settled in your neighborhood, to try to regard them as individuals and not to condemn them before they are given a fair chance to prove themselves in the community.

"A Japanese is always a Japanese" is an easily accepted phrase and it has taken hold quite naturally on the West Coast because of fear, but it leads nowhere and solves nothing.  A Japanese American may be no more Japanese than a German-American is German, or an Italian-American is Italian, or of any other national background. All of these people, including the Japanese Americans, have men who are fighting today for the preservation of the democratic way of life and the ideas around which our nation was built.

“We have no common race in this country, but we have an ideal to which all of us are loyal: we cannot progress if we look down upon any group of people amongst us because of race or religion. Every citizen in this country has a right to our basic freedoms, to justice and to equality of opportunity. We retain the right to lead our individual lives as we please, but we can only do so if we grant to others the freedoms that we wish for ourselves.”

While Eleanor opposed mass internment and wanted the camps closed, President Roosevelt appeared convinced, like Navy Secretary Frank Knox, California Attorney General Earl Warren and prominent columnist Walter Lippman, absent sound intelligence information, to assume ethnic Japanese were loyal to and collaborating with Japan.  FDR sided with the War Department, vs Justice, Interior and FBI which said there was no intelligence justification for mass internment.  As of the end of WW II, no ethnic Japanese resident of the USA was convicted for collaborating with Japan and a US Congress-mandated commission declared internment was not necessary and it was caused by the failure of political leadership.  While history judged FDR was wrong on the internment, he was judged to be outstanding in the management of other major issues: e.g. the recovery from 1932 depression, establishment of a sound financial system, co-leader of WW II, creator of the United Nations and social Security System.  While Nikkei are justified to join the Presidential Commission to be critical of FDR, his major achievements, including his selection of Harry Truman as his Vice President, should not be overlooked.  See article below which reflects FDR’s ability to unite the nation to defeat totalitarianism.   

FDR D-Day Prayer Addition to the National WW II Memorial

Sketch of FDR D-Day Prayer. FDR prayer is inscribed on the plaque observed by three individuals in the center of the sketch. 

The Mall, Washington, D.C.   On December 20, 2022, Friends of the National World War II Memorial press release announced President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "D-Day Prayer" plaque at the newly restored Circle of Remembrance at the National World War II Memorial.   A plaque was installed near the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. inscribed with the words of the prayer that President Roosevelt shared with the nation on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  

The D-Day Prayer is a free-standing element within a restored Circle of Remembrance with the bronze plaque held by granite piers, providing material continuity.

This is an important and meaningful addition to the Memorial, which is visited by more than five million people each year, providing a contemplative space to reflect on and to remember the more than 400,000 American souls lost during World War II.  [Each patriot killed in combat, including 161 KIA and 43 Missing in Action (MIA) Japanese Americans, is recognized by a gold star (1 star for 10 KIA) on the Freedom Wall located on the west side of Memorial Plaza with a view of the reflecting pool and Lincoln Memorial.]

FDR leading the national prayer at the White House, June 6, 1944.

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.”

One Nisei (a medical doctor from Maui, Hawaii) participated in the Normandy invasion.  On October 14, 1944, the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team, including the 100th Infantry Battalion, joined the 7th Army for the invasion of German-occupied France from the south, thus causing Germany to fight a two-front war.  The number of major awards received by the 442nd testified to the intensity and fierceness of combat of the Vosges campaign:    Five of the seven Distinguished Unit Citations, five of the 21 Medals of Honor, and nine of the 29 Distinguished Service Crosses were received for the thirty-four days of combat (October 14, 1944,  to November 1, 1944).  The fighting was so fierce that when one battle ended one company, normally having a strength of 180 men, had 7 men standing and another company had 12 standing.  This campaign marked the defining moment of Nisei loyalty.  Caucasian officers assigned to the 442nd who were killed alongside the Nisei were viewed by their Nisei soldiers as a testimony of Nisei loyalty.  Soon after the War ended, the War Department issued two major press releases.  The first said the 442nd Combat Team, including the 100th, were the best fighters in the history of the US Army.   The second press release, issued a few months later, said the 442nd, including the 100th, was the most highly decorated unit for its size and period of combat.  The Army Department commissioned its artist to paint a scene of the Vosges campaign which depicted the ferocity of combat to save the Texas Battalion.    On July 15, 1945, President Truman reviewed the 442nd, including the 100th, at the Ellipse when he told the Nisei soldiers, you fought the enemy and you fought prejudice and you won.  Truman, in effect, confirmed Nisei loyalty.  In other words, he removed from the table the stigma of disloyalty placed there when the war began.  After rest, resupply, refurbishment, and retraining the 442nd returned to Italy to smash the impregnable German Gothic defense line in 30 minutes that withstood 5th Army attacks for the previous 5 months. This allowed Allied forces to pursue the Germans into the Po Valley and north. The war in Italy ended a few weeks later.

[EdNote:  A JAVA member who reviews the internet diligently and forwards items he believes may be of interest to JAVA leadership, including e-Advocate, is Retired U.S. Army LTC Rodney Azama, a West Point graduate.  When we were looking for an article about FDR to provide balance to the other two articles, the above article landed in our inbox.  Great instincts and thank you, Rod.] 

Join Us!

JAVA Day of Affirmation Luncheon

The Army and Navy Club, Washington DC

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Mural by Nobuo Kitagaki in Building 305, Camp Ritchie, MD.  Photo: Courtesy of Landon Grove.

Day of Affirmation Luncheon

Sunday, July 16, 2023, at 11:30 am

Army and Navy Club

901 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC

Keynote Speaker

Landon Grove

Ritchie History Museum Director & Curator

RSVP by July 10

Cost: $60.00 per person

Please join us on Sunday, July 16 at the historic Army and Navy Club at Farragut Square in Washington, DC to celebrate JAVA's Day of Affirmation!

The keynote speaker will be Mr. Landon Grove, Director and Curator of the Ritchie Museum, who will share the fascinating history of Camp Ritchie. Camp Ritchie is where U.S. soldiers were trained in German, Italian, and French to decode enemy communications and interrogate prisoners of war captured in Europe. One class of the Nisei Military Intelligence Service was also trained at Camp Ritchie. While there, the above Japanese American mural is believed to have been painted by Nisei solder Nobuo Kitagaki. The Ritchie Museum was recently awarded a grant from the State of Maryland to restore the mural, which is located in a building next to the museum. We hope you can join us and learn more about the museum and the mural! 

The luncheon program will begin at 11:30 am. All guests are asked to arrive by 11:15 am to allow time to check in.


"The Army and Navy Club has been a prestigious home away from home for the most illustrious names in America's military and political history. The Club is a private, members only, Five Star Platinum Club on Washington, DC's historic Farragut Square. Valued by members as a distinguished landmark where traditions and camaraderie reign, the Club's timeless elegance and atmosphere are complimented with fine dining, delightful accommodations, an exceptional library, and special events designed to benefit all members.” (https://www.armynavyclub.org/)

Freedom Walk 2023

Nen Daiko Drummers at the 2023 Freedom Walk. Photo: Bruce Hollywood.

Cadets and Cherry Blossom Representatives in Group Dance at 2023 Freedom Walk. Photo: Bruce Hollywood. 

By Martha Watanabe

Our theme this year was “Commemorating and Continuing our Fight for Civil Rights.”  We celebrated the 25th anniversary of Freedom Walk and commemorated the 35th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

In spite of the rain, close to 100 people attended the event, which resumed in-person after two years of a virtual program.  Once again, Nen Daiko and their youth group, Dounen got us off to a rousing start with their drumming and then led a group participation session of dances. The program was skillfully directed by emcee, Bridget Keaveney, the JACL Norman Y. Mineta Fellow and JACL-DC Chapter Board member.  This year, for the first time, members of the Chinese and Japanese Clubs from the Naval Academy presented the colors under the guidance of Marty Herbert and Mark Nakagawa.

JAVA EC members LTC Marty Herbert, USA (Ret) and LTC Mark Nakagawa along with Navy Cadets present colors at 2023 Freedom Walk. Photo: Bruce Hollywood. 

Ben de Guzman, Director of the Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs gave a greetings from Mayor Bowser.  We were pleased to have the National Cherry Blossom Festival Goodwill Ambassadors join us this year and David Moran, Chair of the National Cherry Blossom Festival gave remarks.  Minister Koichi Ai from the Embassy of Japan spoke about the importance of maintaining the relationship between the United States and Japan and how important cultural exchanges were good for both nations.  David Yao, founder of Freedom Walk shared the history of Freedom Walk and why this event is still relevant.  Daphne Kwok, former National Japanese American Memorial Foundation Board member gave a tribute to Norman Mineta, who participated in many Freedom Walk programs.

The sponsors of Freedom Walk gave remarks and were represented by John Tobe, Chair of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation; Gerald Yamada, President of the Japanese American Veterans Association; and Linda Sato Adams, Co-President of the JACL-DC Chapter.

2023 Freedom Walk Panel L-R:  Shirley Higuchi, Chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation; Wade Henderson, former President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Moderator Daphne Kwok. Photo: Bruce Hollywood. 

This was followed by a panel discussion featuring Wade Henderson, former President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Shirley Higuchi, Chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation; and moderated by Daphne Kwok.  Wade shared some of the history of securing passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 through lobbying efforts and a collective desire by different civil rights groups to support our community.  Shirley talked about how she developed relationships with several members of Congress and the National Park Service to bring to fruition the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center.  They stressed the importance of educating and building allies from all sectors of the community. 

Of the many comments we received after the panel, most started with “I didn’t know,” so it seems like everyone learned something that day!

This year, we were able to incorporate the 48 Start Flag Signing Project.  This project was started by Judge Johnny Cepeda Goto, a California Superior Court Judge from Santa Clara, CA who was inspired find a way to honor the Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II.  Participants who had either been incarcerated or had family members who were incarcerated were encouraged to sign the flag and to find out more information from Julie Abo, Co-President of the JACL-DC Chapter.

After the panel and symbolic ribbon cutting, walkers trouped off in the rain for the Walk.

April Showers and 2023 Freedom Walkers! Photo: Bruce Hollywood. 

Gerald Yamada

2023 Freedom Walk Remarks

(As Prepared)

JAVA President Gerald Yamada at the 2023 Freedom Walk. Photo: Bruce Hollywood. 

The Japanese American Veterans Association is proud again to be a co-sponsor of today’s Freedom Walk.

It is fitting that we commemorate the fight for civil rights here at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in World War II.

This Memorial was built to remind America of how government officials, motivated by prejudice and political ambition, used war hysteria to blatantly violate the civil rights of 120,000 innocent persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II.  This Memorial is dedicated to telling the story of how Japanese Americans proved their loyalty and restored their civil rights and dignity.

In the face of overt prejudice, 33,000 Japanese American, men and women, answered the call to defend the freedoms that they were denied.  They served with personal courage and exceptional valor.  Their legendary “Go For Broke” spirit carried them from being treated as “non-aliens” to being recognized as America’s heroes. 

Their contributions and sacrifices are best summarized by President Harry Truman.  In reviewing the segregated all Japanese American combat unit at the White House on July 15, 1946, he declared, "You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice – and you have won.  Keep up that fight, and we will continue to win.…”

This affirmation to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team is inscribed on a granite panel of this Memorial next to the names of the Japanese American soldiers who were killed in World War II. 

On this day, let us again draw renewed energy from today’s Freedom Walk, and from this Memorial, in carrying forward the legacy forged by the personal courage of the Japanese American soldiers in World War II.  They showed us how to fight prejudice.  As they did, let us keep our faith in America as we continue the fight for the civil rights of all. 

Virginia Beach Cherry Blossom Festival!

Okinawa Sanshin of Virginia Beach celebrating the first post-COVID gathering of the Virginia Beach Annual Cherry Blossom Festival, April 2023. Photo: Courtesy of Gary Williams. 

JAVA member Gary Williams, who served with Korat and NKP Thailand 697th Pipeline Company, 44th Engineer Group, wrote that he and his wife Nakasone Williams have been performing Okinawa music for many years and that he is largely self-taught. Gary shared a celebratory group photo from the Okinawa Sanshin of Virginia Beach celebrating the first post-COVID gathering of the Virginia Beach Annual Cherry Blossom Festival. For the festival, the group performed both Classical and Folk Music from Okinawa, including an Eisa medley. The afternoon also included a performance of several Hawaiian dances by the Hula Club, which is made up of a number of Marine and Navy wives. 

Thank you Gary for the update!

Washington Sanshin Group of Washington, DC.  Front row, left to right, Dennis Asato, Yoshiko Butler, Gary Williams, back row left to right Akiko Clifford, Takako Whitwood, and  Chieko Nakasone Williams. Photo: Courtesy of Gary Williams.

JAVA Member Tak Furumoto Honored at Flushing, New York Sakura Matsuri

Tak Furumoto was honored at the Sakura Matsuri Ceremony in Flushing, NY, on April 22, 2023. Source: YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f6-fnSLRyA (16:16). Screenshot: Neet Ford. 

Since 2003, the Japanese American Association of New York (JAA) has hosted a Sakura Matsuri at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. As part of the festival, each year the JAA  has planted a cherry tree with the help of the Cherry Association of Japan and a cooperative effort with the NYS Parks Department to honor outstanding citizens and community leaders. This year JAVA member Tak Furumoto was honored for his leadership and contributions to the Japanese American community and for his work on the passage of the legislation designating January 30 as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution in New Jersey. Congratulations Tak! 

[EdNote: Tak sends high praise and thanks to David Iwata for generously loaning the Go For Broke banner. To watch Tak's presentation in which he discusses Fred Korematsu Day, the 442nd RCT, his Japanese American experience, and his hope for the future, click on the link and listen at minute 12:02  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f6-fnSLRyA.]


Retired U.S. Army General Eric Shinseki. Photo by: U.S. Army painting/John Boyd Martin

This article was first published by the Association of the United States Army, and is reprinted with permission.

Thu, 03/23/2023 - 07:10

Retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, a former Army chief of staff and Veterans Affairs secretary, is the 2023 recipient of the Association of the U.S. Army’s highest award.

The George Catlett Marshall Medal, awarded for distinguished and selfless service, is presented annually during the association’s annual meeting and exposition in Washington, D.C.

Shinseki, a native of Hawaii and 1965 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, was chosen for AUSA’s annual award for his decades of selfless service to the United States and particularly because of his many efforts to support the Army and its soldiers and veterans.

“Gen. Eric Shinseki has dedicated his life to serving his country and others. He is the epitome of a selfless servant, a leader of character and intellect, and a tireless advocate for our service members and their families,” said retired Gen. Bob Brown, AUSA president and CEO. “His deep commitment to America’s Army and the nation’s veterans has had a lasting impact, and I am proud the Association of the U.S. Army is recognizing him with our highest award.”

Born less than a year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Shinseki was inspired to join the Army by his uncles, who served in the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II, according to Britannica.

Upon graduating from West Point, Shinseki served two combat tours in Vietnam, first as an artillery forward observer and then as commander of A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry, according to the Army Historical Foundation. Shinseki was wounded twice in combat, including an injury during his second deployment that cost him part of his right foot, according to Britannica and his Veterans Affairs bio. He spent almost a year recovering but returned to active duty in 1971.

Shinseki, who has a master’s degree in English from Duke University, served as an instructor at West Point before moving on to assignments in the Pentagon and Europe, according to Britannica.

He would spend more than 10 years serving in Europe, including several assignments in the 3rd Infantry Division and as assistant chief of staff for operations, plans, and training for VII Corps and deputy chief of staff for support for the Allied Land Forces Southern Europe, an element of the Allied Command Europe.

From March 1994 to July 1995, Shinseki commanded the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

In June 1997, Shinseki became the first Asian American to achieve the rank of four-star general, assuming duties as commander of U.S. Army Europe, Allied Land Forces Central Europe, and the NATO Stabilization Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

He served as the 34th Army chief of staff from June 1999 to June 2003. During his tenure, he initiated the Army Transformation Campaign to address the emerging strategic challenges of the early 21st century and the need for cultural and technological change in the Army, according to his Veterans Affairs bio. He also led the Army through the early months of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

He retired from the Army in August 2003.

In 2008, Shinseki was nominated to serve as VA secretary, serving from January 2009 to May 2014.

He is currently chairman of the Army Historical Foundation board.

The Marshall Medal, established in 1960, is named for George Catlett Marshall, who served as Army chief of staff, secretary of state and secretary of defense.

Past recipients of the Marshall Medal include Generals of the Army Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley; Presidents Harry Truman, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush; actor, director, musician, producer and philanthropist Gary Sinise; and retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan, the former Army chief of staff and former AUSA president.

In 2022, AUSA awarded the Marshall Medal to Elizabeth Dole, a former U.S. senator and two-time cabinet secretary whose foundation is dedicated to those who care for a wounded, injured or ill service member or veteran.

To view the article online visit: https://www.ausa.org/news/retired-gen-shinseki-selected-2023-marshall-medal#:~:text=Shinseki%20Selected%20for%202023%20Marshall%20Medal,-Photo%20by%3A%20U.S.&text=2023%20%2D%2007%3A10-,Retired%20Gen.,the%20U.S.%20Army's%20highest%20award.

Longtime Friend of JAVA Mary Murakami interviewed by GoodRx on the Lasting Health Effects of Internment

Ray and Mary Murakami at 2016 Freedom Walk. Photo: JAVA.

Mary Murakami, a longtime Friend of JAVA and member of the JAVA Speakers Bureau, spoke about her experience at Topaz War Relocation Center in Utah to GoodRx as part of their coverage of the Day of Remembrance. To read the online article titled Remembering the Incarceration of Japanese Americans, and a Look at the Last Health Effect, click on the following link:


Mary and Ray Murakami at a 2017 JAVA Luncheon. Photo: JAVA.

JAVA Seeking Executive Director 

The Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) is seeking an Executive Director and hopes all interested and qualified individuals will consider applying.

Japanese American Veterans Association

The Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) is a non-profit Veteran Services Organization with many purposes: Preserving and strengthening comradeship among its members; Perpetuating the memory and history of our departed comrades; Educating the American public on the Japanese American experience during WWII and Striving to obtain veterans the full benefit of their entitlements as veterans. JAVA sponsors events throughout the year including a Memorial Day Program, Day of Affirmation Ceremony, Veterans Day Program as well as a Memorial Scholarship Program and periodic Member Luncheons.

JAVA Executive Director Position Summary

The JAVA Executive Director (ED) is a part-time, remote, and independent contractor position (not an employee or officer of JAVA). The Executive Director is the main point of contact for the Japanese American Veterans Association and coordinates and manages the day-to-day operations as well as planned events. Attendance and participation are required at quarterly weekend teleconferences and other scheduled meetings. If the ED resides in the Washington, DC area, in-person attendance at key events is desired. Additionally, individuals in the DC area will be asked to manage the JAVA P.O. Box.

Historically, the Executive Director was expected to dedicate between 6 and 10 hours spread throughout the week, with an average of 25-30 hours a month. The hourly rate is $45.00 per hour with no additional benefits. This compensation package is negotiable with approval from the Executive Council.


  • Under the general direction of the President, provides direct administrative support to the JAVA President in all organizational matters, serving as an extension of the Executive Council (EC).
  • Creates and coordinates the monthly e-Advocate newsletter including developing and writing articles on JAVA events and securing reprint permission for outside articles.
  • Supports the planning and management of JAVA events, luncheons, meetings, and other important activities relating to the organization's mission. The ED maintains the JAVA events calendar.
  • Responsible for bookkeeping and annual budget preparation in QuickBooks, as well as tax preparation for the accountant.
  • Prepares expense reports and documentation for bill payments.
  • Deposits donation checks and prepares payment checks for the JAVA Treasurer’s endorsement.
  • Responsible for the weekly checking of the JAVA P.O. Box and reviewing correspondence to determine actions. 
  • Documents the minutes for Board Meetings and Member Meetings.
  • Responsible for sending out donation acknowledgments and tracking donations in an Excel spreadsheet as well as in QuickBooks.
  • Prepares correspondence including scholarship award letters, JAVA Award recipient letters, research requests, announcements, press releases, and email blasts as needed/requested to JAVA’s membership and contacts. The ED also prepares information to be distributed on social media.
  • Updates and maintains the JAVA website and computer.
  • Research topics as assigned by the JAVA President.

Skills Desired

  • A strong strategic connection and passion for the organization's mission and vision.
  • Experience providing executive administrative support, preferably within nonprofits or the military.
  • An organized, detailed oriented self-starter with enthusiasm, diplomacy, discretion, and good judgment.
  • Strong verbal, written, and communication (including press releases, article writing, and social media) skills and experience.
  • Knowledgeable with QuickBooks, bookkeeping principles, financial statements, and tax preparation.
  • Proficient with MS Office, especially in composing memos, and letters. 
  • Ability to utilize Excel for record-keeping, and previous experience with different software platforms such as membership management software and video teleconferencing platforms.
  • Previous experience interacting and managing member relationships.
  • Previous experience with event and meeting planning.
  • B.A. or B.S. and at least five years of work experience.
  • At this time, we will only accept candidates who are presently eligible to work in the United States and will not require sponsorship.

If interested in applying for the position, please email JAVA President Gerald Yamada at gerald.yamada@java-us.org and the JAVA office email at javapotomac@gmail.com with a letter of interest, resume, and three references. For additional information about JAVA please visit the website at https://java-us.org/.

White House Forum on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, & Pacific Islanders

Join us in Washington, D.C. for a community-wide, national Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration!

Please join the White House

and the

 White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI)

  George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

 May 3, 2023

8:00 am to 5:00 pm

 Attend In-person or Virtually



This historic forum on AA and NHPI communities in the heart of our nation's capital will feature Biden-Harris Administration officials, groundbreaking artists, and trailblazers.

Individual registration is required. To attend in-person or virtually, RSVP using this Eventbrite form. Please note that registration does not guarantee in-person admission as space is limited. You will receive a final confirmation closer to the event.

Veterans Affairs Outreach

Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Veterans Affairs Outreach

Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Pacific Symposium 





9:00 AM - 12:00 PM (HST)

3:00 - 6:00 PM (EDT)

Link to Join:


Quick Link:

Click Here to Join the Symposium


1-833-558-0712 USA Toll-Free Number

Access Code: 276 020 60877

Symposium Details:  In recognition of Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, this symposium will celebrate AANHPI service in the military, as well as Veteran contributions to our Nation.  Guest speakers will educate and empower attendees about the benefits and services available to them and also highlight VA outreach efforts to bridge the gap between the VA and AANHPI Veterans, service members, family members, caregivers, and survivors.  The symposium will also provide information on current and future VA benefits, including filing a VA disability claim online, fraud prevention and awareness and the Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.


A Nation Honors our Vietnam Veterans and their Families 

May 11-13, 2023
The National Mall, Washington, D.C.

For more information about the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Event on May 11-13, 2023 visit: https://www.vietnamwar50th.com/welcomehome/.

75th Annual Memorial Day Service

Sunday, May 28, 2023

75th Annual Memorial Day Service

Sunday, May 28, 2023

10:00 AM EDT

Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium

Keynote Speaker

Major Kay Izumihara, USAR

JAVA Executive Council Secretary


Japanese American Citizens League

(National and Washington DC Chapter)

Japanese American Veterans Association

National Japanese American Memorial Foundation

Please contact jaclwdc@gmail.com for questions or additional information

Honoring Our Nisei Veterans

Virtual Event

Sunday, May 28, 2023

 A Conversation On The Ultimate Sacrifice



SUNDAY, May 28, 2023 - 1:00 pm PDT

 A Conversation On The Ultimate Sacrifice

Honoring the Nisei Veterans courage and loyalty to our country is integral to remembering their important contributions to our JA history.  A vast majority of our Nisei veterans have passed on and their stories need to be preserved and shared.  Storytelling is a vital step in ensuring their legacy lives on, especially for those who paid the ultimate price.  Join us for this FREE virtual event. 

RSVP by May 25th and join us as panelists discuss personal sacrifice. 

Link to the event flyer and Google sign up form:


Questions or Suggestions: Please contact Neet Ford at javapotomac@gmail.com.

Japanese American Veterans Association:  Address: P.O. Box 341198, Bethesda, MD 20827 I www.java-us.org.