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
Thu, Dec 22 2011
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.
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.
|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.