Tulare County Operation Diploma Ceremony

December 7, 2005
      The purpose of the Tulare County Operation Diploma Ceremony program was to award diplomas to veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as citizens interned during World War II in relocation camps, who may have missed their graduation because of their service or internment.  

      Special Events Coordinator, Nancy (Hanada) Bellin (Poston 326-4-A) , introduced the honorees individually and then they were presented with a diploma by Board President Leonard Hansen and County Superintendent Jim Vidak.  Ms. Bellin said that all the applicants spoke of a desire to obtain a high school diploma, which many of us take for granted.  She also thanked Jim Vidak for making this day possible.  

       Nancy Bellin introduced a life-long friend, Dr. Sam Katano (Poston 326-2-A ) , who spoke on behalf of the local Japanese-American community.  He extended congratulations to those being honored at today's ceremony and expressed his appreciation to the County superintendent for establishing the "Operation Diploma" program in Tulare County.  He said that many Japanese-Americans who lived in WW II internment camps never receive their diplomas.

     For Mollie (Abe) Osato (Poston 305-11-B) , this ceremony came nearly 60 years after she attended Orosi High School and left her junior year because she and her family were interned in Arizona.  There was hardly a "dry eye" in the Education Center when Mrs. Osato accepted her high school diplomas with her faithful husband, Masashi Osato (Poston  305-6-CD) , by her side.  Ms. Bellin said that Mollie and her husband, Masashi, own a ranch in Orosi and that she is very active in her local community. 

      Linda Shiba, a technician  in External Business Services, accepted a diploma on behalf of her sister-in-law, Lydia Hatsuki (Nagata) Shiba (Poston 305-11-C) . 

      Diplomas for Mitsunobu George Kiritani (Poston 309-1-A), Mae S. Yamada and Isaac Kelly Kageyama (Poston 305-1-A) were accepted posthumously by Rose (Shiba) Abe (Poston block 309), a good friend of Nancy Bellin.   

     Mrs. Abe remained at the podium to accept diplomas on behalf of Velma Natsuko Kurihara (Poston 305-12-D),  Sumiye Naito, and Yuriko Katsuki who were unable to attend the ceremony.

 Source: Tulare County Board of Education Minutes December 7, 2005, Visalia, CA.
 Accessed at: http://www.tcoe.k12.ca.us/Commitment/Minutes2005_12.pdf


Insinuations and Innuendo About Internment

 By Floyd Mori
(The following letter was sent on Dec. 19 to New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson by Floyd Mori, National Executive Director of the JACL.)

     The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is gravely concerned by an article entitled “The How of an Internment, but Not All the Whys,” written by Edward Rothstein and printed in The New York Times on Dec. 10, 2011.
     While we appreciate the author’s recognition of the historical significance of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, his critiques of the museum contain problematic views on the Japanese American community’s role in World War II.
     Time and time again it has been proven that the internment of Americans of Japanese descent was not a military necessity, but the result of wartime hysteria and racism. In 1983 the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC), a group appointed by Congress, found that the Japanese American community was not a sufficient threat to national security to justify internment and called the decision to incarcerate Japanese Americans a failure of political leadership.
     The United States government has condemned its actions and paid redress to those affected by internment. Just last month Congress bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Battalion, and the Military Intelligence Service. These all-Japanese American units were recognized for their courage in risking their lives for a country that did not accept them.
     Mr. Rothstein’s review perpetuates a damaging and misleading notion that conflates Japanese Americans with the Japanese and calls their loyalty and patriotism into question. If Mr. Rothstein found the information at Heart Mountain insufficient to explain the context of internment, he could have consulted academic literature before insinuating that the information at Heart Mountain is overlooking a threatening connection between Japanese Americans and Japanese enemies during World War II.
     These insinuations have no place in 2011, especially in a major news outlet such as The New York Times.
     Insinuations that raise suspicions — such as Mr. Rothstein’s — are a critical issue; Congress has seen fit to pass legislation allowing the same kind of neglect of due process with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. Again we see the same failure to recognize that war is not an excuse to overlook the Constitution and rely on race and religion to determine a person’s right to basic civil rights.
     Due process and equal protection under the law are core values of this nation that must not be compromised by innuendo.
     We call on The New York Times to publish information on Japanese American internment that is informed by rigorous, academic research. It is essential in this political climate that we have media that uphold the truth and provide fair characterizations of its subjects.

Source: http://rafu.com/news/2011/12/insinuations-and-innuendo-about-internment/


The Importance of Preserving Legacy

NOTE:  The *message* of the following story can be applied to those who were incarcerated at the Poston, Arizona camps during World War II........
by Wilbur D. Jones Jr.
For StarNewsMedia
Wilbur D. Jones, Jr.
Monday, December 19, 2011

     Nestled on a short side street within an urban canyon of high-rises near Waikiki Beach in sprawling Honolulu is the nondescript, one-story 1950s clubhouse of one of America’s bravest and most famous World War II fighting units.
      To find the home of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the first all-Nisei Japanese-American outfit and later part of the immortal “Go for Broke” 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated of the war, one needs an escort. Mine, Amy Muroshige, whose father was an original member, graciously hosted me in meeting 16 veterans who gathered for their weekly scrumptious brunch and camaraderie.
      Mostly in their 90s, they ranged from judge Takashi Kitaoka, 99, who deftly maneuvered his walker to pose enthusiastically for photos, to Robert Arakaki, 88, the “baby of the group” who helps to keep them young, and patiently answered my many questions.
     Am I prepared to understand pidgin English? Amy had asked, referring to Leighton “Goro” Sumida, 91, the group “spokesman.” Goro, miraculously not wounded but anxiously displaying his bypass scars, reminisced about combat under constant German fire at Anzio, Italy, the horrible miscalculated winter crossings of the Rapido River near Montecassino, and the bone-numbing cold in Northeast France’s Vosges Mountains.
     Sharing time with them was my professional honor. Informed I had walked their battlefields and visited their remote mountainside memorials in recent years, we quickly bonded. Most memorable are the Vosges town of Bruyeres, which they liberated while suffering heavy casualties in October 1944, and neighboring Biffontaine, where they and the 442nd RCT rescued the “Lost Battalion” of their own 36th Infantry Division days later after a fierce uphill battle.
      To reach both requires a skillful driver and perseverance. With help from local farmers, I first located the Lost Battalion memorials in 2009 – decked with leis, wreaths, and puka shell beads from a recent ceremony – after climbing up deteriorating and narrowing paved-to-dirt roads.
      Not your ordinary GIs, these courageous Americans, second generation sons of pineapple and cane field contract worker immigrants, fought three battles: the Germans, racial discrimination and President Franklin Roosevelt’s foolhardy internment of Japanese-American citizens.
     Nearly seven decades later, the Nisei regiment received the Congressional Gold Medal in a November 5, 2011, ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.
     In early 1942 the Army formed the 100th (“One-Puka-Puka”) primarily from Nisei in Hawaii National Guard regiments. Seeing their first overseas service in North Africa in September 1943 with the 34th Infantry Division, soon they invaded Italy at Salerno and slugged their way north toward Rome through rugged “mountains and mules” terrain vividly described by Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent Ernie Pyle, where they earned the bloody moniker “The Purple Heart Battalion.”
     They merged with the newly arrived 442nd RCT into the 36th Division in July 1944, retaining their battalion designation, and by fall were in France.
     Among their numerous combat awards, the 100th earned nine Medals of Honor, three Presidential Unit Citations, sixteen Distinguished Service Crosses, 1,703 Purple Hearts, and thirty division commendations.
      Why this story? To contrast this veterans group with the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, which sadly just announced they will disband their corporation on December 31, 2011, because of their members’ ages and health.
     Children of the 100th now serve as officers, and grandchildren and devoted friends help provide the glue and continuity. With other island chapters and one on the Mainland, they publish a monthly newsletter, sponsor scholarships and events, exchange visits with Bruyeres citizens, house an educational research center, participate in patriotic parades, developed a website, and recently renovated portions of the clubhouse.
     No doubt, they appear determined to perpetuate their memories and fellowship.
Disbanding of WWII veterans organizations is too prevalent. I see it frequently. Unless descendants and friends step forward, that day draws near. Fortunately, such leadership sustains Wilmington’s popular WWII Remembered Group.
Wilmington native Wilbur D. Jones Jr., is a nationally known author and military historian who recently attended the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Source: http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20111219/ARTICLES/111219732/-1/sports01?Title=Wilbur-D-Jones-Jr-A-legacy-worth-preserving


Museum also displays ugly part of history

November 11, 2009

      History can be quite nostalgic.  Nori Hashimoto (Poston internment camp block 305-9-CD) remembers living along the Colorado River in Arizona in the early 40’s. He recalls seeing wild horses run through the trees near the river. “I was eight years old. It was play time for me,” he said.
      At the time he was living in a Japanese Internment camp during WWII, a part of American History most would prefer to forget. Hashimoto’s older sister, for example, was devastated by the time she spent in camp.
      “Every time anyone brought it up, she would hate it,” Hashimoto said.
      The Reedley Historical Museum has a Rotating Exhibit Room, which contains a Japanese relocation display. During WWII many Japanese people were uprooted from their homes and ranches, and put into one of 20+ Relocation camps.

      The museum has some historical documented stories with a chronology of Japanese history and ancestry written in several booklets.
      Also on display are works of art created by artists while during their time in the various relocation camps. These include carved birds and animals, shell necklaces, hair combs and jewelry. The pieces display the unique colors, designs and creativity of the Japanese Americans during a dark time.
      Hashimoto remembers his family making the same types of pieces on display at the museum.
      The display, however, was donated by Florence (Arnheimer) Gomez, who taught at the Tule Lake camp in Northern California.
      The Reedley Museum is located under the twin water towers. The museum is open Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 am to noon. For tour information, call 638-1913.
Source: http://www.reedleyexponent.com/articles/2009/11/11/community/doc4af49e171e352525402068.txt


Internment and the forgetful U.S. Senate

S. Floyd Mori: Internment specter raises ugly head in forgetful U.S. Senate
By S. Floyd Mori
Special to the Mercury News
S. Floyd Mori
Posted: 11/27/2011
      The oldest generation of Japanese-Americans, those whose earliest memories were of their lives and families being upended by internment without charge or trial in concentration camps during World War II, at least take comfort in the hope that America is now committed to never inflicting that experience on any other group of Americans or immigrants. But our trust in that commitment is being shaken by a bill poised to go to the Senate floor that could once again authorize indefinite detention without charge of American citizens and others now living peacefully in our country.
     We have reason to believe in the commitment of Americans to say never again to indefinite detention. In 1988, the Civil Liberties Act officially declared that the Japanese-American internment had been a "grave injustice" that had been "carried out without adequate security reasons." In other words, the indefinite detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II was not only wrong, but unnecessary.
     A bill on the Senate floor raises the question of whether the Senate has forgotten our history. S. 1253, the National Defense Authorization Act, has a provision in it, unfortunately drafted by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., that would let any U.S. president use the military to arrest and imprison without charge or trial anyone suspected of having any relationship with a terrorist organization.   
     Although Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and more than a dozen of her colleagues are bravely calling for a halt to a damaging bill, they face significant opposition.
     The troubling provision, Section 1031, would let the military lock up both Americans and noncitizens in the 50 states. There would be no charges, no trial, no proof beyond a reasonable doubt. All that would be required would be suspicion.
     Although the details of the indefinite detentions of Japanese-Americans during World War II and the proposed indefinite detentions of terrorism suspects may differ, the principle remains the same: Indefinite detentions based on fear-driven and unlawfully substantiated national security grounds, where individuals are neither duly charged nor fairly tried, violate the essence of U.S. law and the most fundamental values upon which this country was built.
     As the measures to indefinitely detain Japanese-Americans during World War II have been deemed a colossal wrong, the same should be true of modern indefinite detention of terrorism suspects. Our criminal justice system is more than equipped to ensure justice and security in terrorism cases, and we certainly should not design new systems to resurrect and codify tragic and illegitimate policies of the past.
     As our history shows, acting on fear in these situations can lead to unnecessary and unfruitful sacrifices of the most basic of American values. In the 10 years since the 9/11 attacks, Congress has shown admirable restraint in not enacting indefinite detention without charge or trial legislation. Now with the president seeking to end the current wars, the Senate must avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and protect American values before they are compromised. We cannot let fear overshadow our commitment to our most basic American values.
     The Senate can show that it has not forgotten the lessons of the Japanese-American internment. It should pass an amendment that has been offered by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., that would remove Section 1031 from the act. This Senate should not stain that great body by bringing to the floor any detention provision that would surely be looked upon with shame and regret by future generations.

 S. Floyd Mori is national executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League. He wrote this for this newspaper.



Fighting for the right to fight

A Nisei Veteran recognized for uncommon courage

By Matthew Renda, Staff Writer 

Photo by John Hart

Mas Tsuda
November 22, 2011
     Imagine being displaced from your home and your community by your own native country, based upon your race and ethnicity.
     Imagine being placed in a prison camp, restricted to a rough postage stamp of land with guns pointed at you, preventing your coming and going.
     Then imagine sacrificing everything for the very nation that robbed you of your fundamental rights. Imagine laying your life on the line so that nation may continue to exist.
     This is exactly what Nisei Veterans, like 87-year-old Mas Tsuda (Poston 219-7-B) of Alta Sierra did once upon a difficult and harrowing time. During World War II, many Japanese Americans were forcibly interned in camps throughout the western United States, after Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942. 
   In early 1943, select males from the camps were chosen and "allowed" to fight in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a self-sufficient unit in the United States Army. The regiment was dispatched to Europe in 1943 and fought with uncommon distinction mostly in Southern Europe. However, many of the Japanese-American soldiers returned to a country slow to accept their contributions due to lingering bigotry.
     The 442nd is the most highly-decorated regiment in the history of the United States armed forces with 21 Medal of Honor recipients and a slew of other distinctions too numerous to list.
     Tsuda, who was set to be awarded with a Congressional Gold Medal on Nov. 2 by the U.S. Congress, but could not attend the ceremony due to a family illness, fought in Italy and Southern France as a member of the 442nd. A Japanese-American, Tsuda was born and raised in the agricultural pastures of Watsonville, Calif. He grew up with traditional Japanese parents, as his father was persistently after Tsuda to learn the Japanese language; nevertheless, Tsuda identified with America's cultural values.

     So much so, that in 1941, in the days immediately after Pearl Harbor, Tsuda attempted to enlist at the age of 16 with a couple of his schoolmates, he said, but was informed that children of Japanese and Chinese immigrants were ineligible.

Undeterred by internment...
     Soon after, government officials began rounding up citizens of Asian descent and placing them in temporary and permanent internment camps, hastily built in desolate, unpopulated areas. Tsuda, along with the rest of his family, was sent to a temporary holding facility in Salinas, Calif., before relocation to an Arizona internment camp.[ Poston 219-7-B]
     A senior in high school at the time, Tsuda said he remembers the ordeal as an adventure, whereas his parents and members of their generation struggled mightily.
     "We were young," he said. "My friends and I, we would sneak out and walk to the Colorado River which was only four miles away. We would play in the river, chase the wild horses and then come back before night.
     "The old men and women, though, they were miserable," he said.
     Tsuda rejects the notion that Japanese-Americans were placed in those camps for their own protection.
     "The guns were pointed at us and the sentry towers were not there to keep people out," he said. "They were there to keep us in."
     All the while, Tsuda remained hungry to join the United States armed forces and contribute to the war effort that was rapidly gaining force.
     "We were citizens," he said. "We wanted to fight for our country like everyone else our age. We wanted to serve and prove we were Americans — prove our loyalty."
     In 1943, Tsuda was finally afforded the opportunity to demonstrate his loyalty, as a combat team was formed within the internment camp and training commenced. Soon after, he and other young men were deployed to Hattiesburg, Miss., for sanctioned military training. The famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team was born. The commissioned officers were Caucasian, but treated the young men as soldiers, Tsuda said, and did indulge in bigotry.
     "They were good at what they did," he said. "They wanted us to succeed."

A chance to serve...
     After proceeding through basic training at an accelerated pace, Tsuda's regiment was deployed to the European theater.
     "We landed on the bottom of Italy's boot and walked up north," Tsuda said. "For a while, it was easy. We had better weapons, better air support and more ammunition and the Germans gave up easily. But one day they mounted a counterattack and, boy, did we get beat up. The Germans were good soldiers and we found out."
     Tsuda was in Southern Europe for 18 months engaging in various encounters with the enemy while battling the elements of a foreign territory.
     "I don't think I'll ever get that scared again," Tsuda said. "In the wintertime (of '43) it was so cold. There was snow on the ground and we didn't have the right clothing. There was always rain and we were fighting in the frost."
     After Rome fell into American hands there was a brief respite from battle, he said. However, the lull did not last long as the 442nd was soon sent to Southern France in August of 1944 where mayhem and destruction lurked for the American forces.
     As they marched north, the 442nd liberated the town of Bruyeres in the Vosges Mountains. The same regiment also rescued the "Lost Battalion", the 141st Regiment comprised mostly of boys from Texas, who had inadvertently become trapped behind German lines about two miles east of Biffontaine. The rescue mission was brutal, he said, featuring some of the heaviest resistance the 442nd faced and resulted in massive casualties for the 442nd (some historians believe this to be due to the command ineptitude of John Ernest Dahlquist, who was criticized by other officers for his blatant disregard for the lives of the Japanese-American soldiers). Tsuda, earned a Purple Heart during this period.
     "I got in the way of a mortar and got some shrapnel all over," he said. "I still carry it around with me. We had a helluva lot of casualties. We were called the Purple Heart battalion."
     Tsuda still has his Purple Heart alongside other medals arrayed in a display case, positioned unostentatiously in his home.
     "I proved my loyalty," he said, proudly. "I proved I was an American."

Back home...
     Tsuda came back to America, met his wife, Ann, at night school and became a landscape contractor in San Mateo County. He said his standing improved in society as a result of his service, but he still encountered instances of bigotry that left a bitter aftertaste.
     One day, soon after he returned to California from the war, he and his brother-in-law stopped at a gas station just outside of Watsonville and were denied gas, despite having the cash to pay for it. Tsuda told other veterans in the area about the incident, complaining that the gas station owners had not served in the war and made the same sacrifice he had made.
     "People boycotted that gas station and they went out of business," he said. "I still hold it. It bothers you. I got mad at those guys. I don't like being ignored. People pretend they can see right through you."
     Mas and Ann Tsuda live in Alta Sierra, having moved to western Nevada County in 1988, after Mas retired from his landscaping business. He tries to reunite with other Nisei Veterans every year and stays in contact with many of his fellow regimental members.
     Despite encountering instances of racism sporadically during his civilian life, Tsuda said he remains extremely proud to have served his country.
     "When I went to Japan as tourist, I did not feel Japanese," he said. "I felt like an American and I am proud of it."

Source: http://www.theunion.com/article/20111122/NEWS/111129974/1001&parentprofile=10533