JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION
1749 Old Meadow Road, Suite 500, McLean, VA 22102 (Bob Nakamoto, President)
March 17, 2010
CONTACT: Terry Shima 301-987-6746;
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ERIC SAUL’S ELLIS ISLAND EXHIBIT TO OPEN IN MAY. WILL FEATURE NISEI DURING WW II, HOW THEY GOT THERE, AND LEGACY. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ESTIMATES 7,000 VISITORS DAILY
Japanese American Veterans Association
New York City. Eric Saul, historian, working with Japanese American veterans and historical institutions, is completing the construction of the “Go For Broke: Japanese American Soldiers Fighting on Two Fronts” exhibit, which will open at the Statue of Liberty Museum, Ellis Island, New York at the end of May 2010, the culmination of two years of preparation. A grand opening ceremony is projected for June attended by civilian and military dignitaries, officials of veterans-related organizations and Nisei veterans. It will run for four months and close in September. The National Park Service estimates that some 7,000 visitors per day will see the exhibit.
The focal point of the exhibit is the Japanese American men and women who served in World War II, including the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Nisei in the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), the 300 Nisei women who served in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), the five Nisei who served in the Army Air Corps as gunners, and the Nisei who served in the Occupation Forces of Japan.
Approximately 33,000 Japanese Americans, including 16,000 who served gallantly in combat zones in Europe and Pacific, served for a single purpose: to prove their loyalty to the nation which had disowned them. They settled the question of loyalty once and for all on the battlefields of Italy, France, Germany and the Pacific. When President Harry Truman desegregated the Armed Forces in 1948, a number of reforms were set in motion including the allowing ethnic minorities, including Japanese Americans, to compete on an equal basis for higher positions of rank.
The beginning of the exhibit will feature the arrival of the first generation of Japanese Americans, the Issei, including the 200,000 that immigrated to Hawaii and the 180,000 to mainland America. Their struggle to raise their families to become good citizens and the internment of 120,000 of which over 50% were US citizens will be featured. The closing section of the exhibit will feature the success of Japanese Americans in achieving key positions in the Armed Forces, politics, space, business and the academia. The exhibit will show how Nisei service in World War II led to the elimination of Asian Exclusion Laws and brought about voting rights, land ownership and ultimately, citizenship for Issei; Hawaii statehood; the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988; and the construction of the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism. This exhibit will itself speak of the Greatness of America.
The exhibit will display Nisei war photographs and documents collected from the National Japanese American Historical Society, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Library of Congress, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hawaii State Archives, and from Nisei veterans and their organizations. Photographs will show the Nisei soldier in combat in Italy, France, Germany and the Pacific Theater. One section of the exhibit will show the 522nd Field Artillery fighting in Germany and liberating Jewish prisoners from the Dachau death camp. Another section of the exhibit will depict how a Nisei soldier, Mitch Miyamoto, designed the 442nd shoulder patch, which features the torch of the Statue of Liberty. Also featured will be the story of Mike Masaoka, who lobbied for the creation of an all-Japanese American combat unit and who, after the war, used their incredible war record to fight prejudice against Japanese Americans.
The exhibit will also recognize a number of persons who defended the ethnic Japanese immediately after the war risking their reputations and professions to do so, and officers who commanded the Nisei units during World War II. They include Colonel Kai Rasmussen (MIS), Colonel John Weckerling (MIS), Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Purcell (3rd Battalion, 442), Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark (Commander, 5th Army), Brigadier General Joseph W. Stillwell (Commander, CBI), Lieutenant Colonel Farrant Turner (100th Battalion), Brigadier General Frank D. Merrill (Merrill's Marauders), Lieutenant General Delos C. Emmons (Military Governor of Hawaii), Colonel Kendall J. Fielder (Military Intelligence, Hawaii), Robert Shivers (FBI Hawaii); Hung Wai Ching (Morale Committee, Hawaii), Harold Ickes (Secretary of the Interior), and Earl Finch (Hattiesburg, Mississippi),
Organizations supporting the Go For Broke exhibit include the National Japanese American Historical Society, Japanese American Citizens League, Japanese American Veterans Association, Go For Broke National Education Center, 442nd Veterans Hawaii, Survivors of the Outer Camps of Dachau Concentration Camp, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center-Museum of Tolerance.
Mr. Saul would appreciate any loan or offers of photographs
and documents. He would also welcome suggestions and ideas for the exhibit. He
can be reached at (304) 599-0614;