_______MAY / JUNE, 2000 VOLUME VIII * NUMBER 3__
May 25th was the DAY OF HONOR and it's perfectly understandable that most of us had never heard of it nor were even remotely aware of its significance. In a proclamation signed by President Clinton, May 25 was designated throughout the Nation to recognize and honor all WWII American veterans of minority heritages, who, in the face of racial and ethnic prejudice and discrimination, risked their lives to defend our Nation and preserve the ideals of democracy. A copy of the Presidential proclamation is attached.
I am both pleased and proud that JAVA had a key role in the celebration of this inaugural event in the Washington, D.C. area with events held at the Arlington National Cemetery; the Executive Office Building (EOB); Howard University and the White House. Likewise, similar commemorative events were held at many major cities throughout the Nation.
On the local scene, I had the privilege of dedicating a wreath, with three distinguished minority WWII comrades, at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and then, with several JAVA members, attended a briefing by the Presidential staff at EOB and subsequently participated in a panel session at Howard University. In the afternoon session at Howard, our erudite Stanley Falk made an eloquent presentation of the poignant WWII experiences of Nisei vets in both the European and Pacific Theaters of Operations.
The following day, in the Oval Office of the White House, we witnessed the signing of the proclamation by the President in the august company of personalities such as Colin Powell, Senator Edward Kennedy, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Togo West as well as many other distinguished guests.
In retrospect, it seems like to me that we, as a group, tend to look "inward" telling our own people about our WWII experiences rather than collaborating with other minority veterans associations to proudly educate the general American public about the injustices, hardships, sacrifices and contributions of these dedicated veterans. Most assuredly, the story of the Japanese American veterans of WWII is an unique and compelling one and it would serve as a sparkling "centerpiece" among the exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen, the Navajo Code Breakers, Afro-American combat units and other heroic contributions by minority veterans of WWII. Our future involvement in the Day of Honor affords an excellent opportunity to do so.
JAVA member Gene Takahashi was the guest speaker at a Memorial Day ceremony held at the Arlington National Cemetery on May 28 sponsored by the Washington, DC, JACL chapter. Gene, a Korean War vet, reminded the audience that the year 2000 marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War and he related some of his memories and experiences in Korea. Now retired, in civilian life, Gene was an executive with IBM and resided in Maryland with his wife, Vi, and their family for many years prior to moving to Westport, CT. It was great to renew our friendship with the Takahashi family.
Have you ever wondered what you might do with the reams of orders and other papers and documents related to your wartime service? Certainly, they clutter up valuable space but are too valuable to toss out and for sentimental reasons you would like to keep them handy "just in case." At our upcoming meeting JULY 15, we have invited Lt. Col. ® Tom Hendrix, U.S. Army Military History Institute, located at nearby Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania, to discuss the mission of the History Institute and how they can assist us with our documents and files. In addition, there will be the election of JAVA officers for the next biennium. Please plan on joining us. A reservation sheet for this event is also attached.
This will be my final Message from the President. It has been a distinct privilege in having served as your president for the past two years and I wish to convey my personal gratitude and appreciation to each member who devoted many hours towards serving the needs of the association. Those in this special category include: Akio Konoshima, Lida Allen, the two Grants (Ichikawa and Hirabayashi), Mike Okusa, Warren Tsuneishi, Stanley Falk, Miyako Newell, Bert Mizusawa, Kelly Kuwayama, and, of course, our officers: VP Joe Ichiuji, Secretary Dave Buto and Treasury/Membership Chairman Max Yano, and to my wife, Seiko, for her support and assistance.
On a personal note, several months ago, I had an unanticipated high reading of my PSA count, which was indicative of the presence of cancer cells in my prostate. Like NYC Mayor Guiliani and many fellow JAVA members with similar ailments, I was prepared to undergo one of several treatment options. However, a "biop" indicated my condition as being "benign" but requiring continuing surveillance. All of which is my way of saying "thank you" to so many of my friends and colleagues for their expressions of concern and good wishes!
DAY OF HONOR, MAY 25,2000
The following is the text of a resolution passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton declaring May 25, 2000 a "Day of Honor" to mark the contributions of minority soldiers, sailors and airmen during World War II:
Fifty-five years ago this month, the torch of freedom burned bright in Europe once again as Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allied Forces. Four months later, with the defeat of Imperial Japan, World War II--history's bloodiest and most destructive conflict --
finally came to an end.
That war's unprecedented threat to world peace, freedom, and human rights called forth an unprecedented response from the American people. United and determined after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, American men and women poured into factories and shipyards, working around the clock to build ships, planes, tanks and guns. Millions of others risked their lives to defend our Nation and preserve the ideals of democracy. By the war's end, some 15 million had served in our Armed Forces, including more than 1,200,000 African Americans, 300,000 Hispanic Americans, 50,000 Asian Americans, 20,000 Native Americans, 6,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and 3,000 Native Alaskans.
These minority members of our Armed Forces served with honor and distinction in battles around the globe. Many of them -- like the Tuskegee Airmen, the Japanese American troops of the Army's "Go for Broke" regiment, and the Native American Code Talkers who played a vital role in winning the war in the Pacific -- were renowned for their bravery and dedication. America's minority veterans fought other important battles as well -- battles against prejudice, ignorance, and discrimination. Many gave their lives on foreign soil for the freedom they had never fully shared at home. Many of those who survived returned home from the war and worked to make real in America the ideals for which they had fought so hard and for which so many of their comrades in arms had died.
On this Day of Honor, we have the opportunity -- and the responsibility -- to acknowledge the contributions our minority veterans have made to the peace and freedom we enjoy today. I ask my fellow citizens to join me in saluting African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Native Alaskan, and other minority members who served so valiantly in our Armed Forces during World War II and to remember those who died in service to our country. Their extraordinary devotion to duty is a reminder to us all that our Nation's diversity is not a cause for division, but rather one of our greatest strengths.
The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 44, has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in recognition of the minority veterans who served in World War II.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 25, 2000, as the Day of Honor, 2000. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities paying tribute to the service and sacrifice of the minority veterans of our Armed Forces who served during World War II.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth-day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth.
TWENTY-ONE ASIAN AMERICANS AWARDED CONGRESSIONAL MEDALS OF HONOR
The big news recently as far as Japanese-American WWII veterans are concerned was the announcement that 21 Asian Americans, 19 of them Nikkei, have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The medals are to be presented to seven of the 21 still living at White House on June 21.
The awards follow an initiative by Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Akaka who saw that a provision was written into a military programs bill calling on the Army and Navy to review 104 Distinguished Service Cross citations to see if any of these recipients had been unfairly denied the Nation's highest military honor.
The MEDAL WINNERS:
1st Lt. Daniel K. Inouye: E Company, 2nd Battalion, 442nd RCT. (From Hawaii)April 20, 1945. Near Mount Nebbine, Italy. Attacked three German machine gun nests. Wounded three times. Killed 25 Germans. Captured 8 others.
PFC Barney Hajiro: I Company, 3rd Battalion, 442nd RCT. (Hawaii) Oct. 29, 1944. In France, led the third and last assault in the rescue attempt to save the "Lost Battalion" from Texas.
Pvt. Shizuya Hayashi: A Company. 100th Battalion. Nov. 29, 1943. (Hawaii) Cerasuolo, Italy. Charged a machine gun position, killing 20 enemy soldiers and taking four prisoners.
2nd Lt. Yeiki Kobashigawa: B Company. 100th Battalion. June 26, 1944. (Hawaii) Lanuvlo, Italy. Led his squad as it attacked a house, silencing a machine gun nest and later capturing 20 enemy soldiers.
Tech. Sgt. Yukio Okutsu: F Company. 442nd RCT. April 7, 1945. (Hawaii) Mount Belvedere, Italy. Wiped out two machine gun nests and captured a third, taking four prisoners.
Pvt. George Sakato: 442nd RCT. Oct. 29, 1944. (Denver) Biffontaine, France. His squad pinned down, he rose and led a charge that destroyed a German stronghold.
Staff Sgt. Randolph Davila: 7th Infantry, 3rd Army, May 24, 1944. (Vista, CA) Artena, Italy. Single-handedly save 130 riflemen by silencing several machine guns.
Captain Francis Brown Wai: 34th Division. Oct. 20, 1944. (Hawaii) Phillipines. Killed while leading the final beach assault at Leyte.
Staff Sgt. Robert T. Kuroda: H Company. 442nd RCT. (Hawaii). Killed by sniper while rescuing a party of litter bearers removing wounded soldiers.
PFC Frank Ono: G Company, 442nd RCT. (Hawaii) July 4, 1944. Helped in capturing Hill 140. Took out a machine gun nest, killed a sniper and helped rescue a wounded leader.
PFC Kaoru Moto: C Company. 100th Battalion. (Maui) July 7, 1944. Castellina, Italy. Attacked a machine gun nest, took a prisoner and then captured a house used as an observation post. Wounded, he continued to defend the position being retaken by the Germans.
PFC Kiyoshi Muranaga: F Company. 2nd Battalion, 442nd RCT (Hawaii) June 26, 1944. Suvereto, Italy. Manning a 60mm mortar alone, he produced such accurate and intense fire that the enemy's anti-personnel and anti-tank 88mm gun withdrew. He was the 442nd's first DSC recipient and the unit's first fatality.
PFC Masato "Curly" Nakae: A Company. 100th Battalion. (Hawaii) Aug. 19, 1944. Pisa, Italy. Defending an outpost position, Nakae held back a probe by German forces.
Pvt. Shinyei Nakamine: B Company. 100th Battalion. (Hawaii) June 2, 1944. La Torreto, Italy. Killed while attacking a machine gun nests.
Pvt. Joe Hayashi: K Company. 442nd RCT. (Hawaii) April 22, 1945. Tendola, Italy. Killed while knocking out two machine guns.
PFC William Nakamura: G Company. 2nd Battalion. 442nd RCT. (Seattle) July 4, 1944. Castellina, Italy. Attacked a machine gun nest that pinned down his platoon and later was killed as he held off other enemy gunners who attacked his platoon as it tried to withdraw.
Staff Sgt. Allan Ohata: B Company. 100th Battalion. (Hawaii) Nov. 25, 1943. Cerasuolo, Italy. In a fight with German soldiers, Ohata and another soldier killed 27 Germans, wounding one and taking another prisoner. A little later, the enemy attacked again, four soldiers were killed and three were wounded.
Pvt. Mikio Hasemoto: B Company. 100th Battalion. (Hawaii) Nov. 23, 1943. Cerasuolo, Italy. Killled fighting with Ohata. Responsible for killing 27 Germans in one battle and four in another.
Staff Sgt. Kazuo Otani: G Company. 2nd Battalion, 442nd RCT. (Visalia, CA) July 15, 1944. Pieve di S. Luce, Italy. Drew enemy fire while covering the advancement of his platoon, which had been pinned down. After organizing to defend against a counterattack, he helped a wounded soldier and was killed while dressing the soldier's wound.
PFC Joe Nishimoto: G Company, 442nd RCT. (Fresno, CA). Nov. 7, 1944. La Houssiere, France. Killed in action eight days after being responsible for breaking a three-day stalemate.
Tech. Sgt. Ted Tanouye: K Company. 442nd RCT. (Hawaii). July 7, 1944. Molina A Ventoabbto, Italy. Wounded in battle to take Hill 140, Tanouye stayed through several firefights. He later died of his wounds.
RECEPTION FOR MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS by Fred Murakami
June 21, 2000 will be an historic day in the annals of the American military when 21 Asian Americans will be awarded the highest military decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor, for heroism during World War II.
To honor and recognize the heroic efforts of each of the recipients, an official two-day event will begin with the presentation of the blue-ribbon medals by President Clinton at a White House ceremony on that day.
Other activities are planned throughout the day and will culminate on Thursday evening, June 22, with a reception sponsored by a coalition of Asian-American organizations/groups. The reception is to be held at the Washington Hilton Hotel (Crystal Ballroom) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with cost of $60 per person. The guests at the reception will include approximately 200 relatives and friends of the 21 recipients of the medal.
This will be afford a great opportunity for the entire JAVA membership and their friends to show our deepest appreciation and support for, and to meet the seven surviving servicemen "who went beyond the call of duty" and the relatives of those who made the "supreme sacrifice."
The coalition of sponsors include the Japanese American Citizens League, the Japanese American National Museum, the Japanese American Veterans Association, the National Council of AJA Veterans, the National Federation of Filipino Associations, and the Organization of Chinese Americans.
Invitations to the reception and other details will be sent by each of these organizations to their individual membership.
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Editor's Note: The New York Times ran the following in its letter-to-the-editor column from JAVA's Yeiichi "Kelly" Kuwayama, a winner himself of the Silver Star for his actions during WWII:
"It was with gratification and a sense of honor that I read "21 Asian Americans Receive Medal of Honor' (news article May 14), especially when I discovered that most were from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a Japanese-American unit in the United States Army in which I served.
"This is belated recognition, but still is recognition.
"And it is an acknowledgment that there was prejudice not only in the award of metals, but in the treatment of Japanese Americans, who were placed in segregated internment camps during the war."
JAVA MEMBER AIRS BITTERSWEET MEMORIES OF WWII ON NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO
The bittersweet memories of Nisei soldiers during World War II were aired over National Public Radio last month as the Nation prepared to celebrate Memorial Day weekend.
JAVA's Sunao (Phil) Ishio, in an interviewed broadcast nationwide by NPR, spoke of the humiliation, the hardships, but then a final vindication for him and many other Nisei who served in the conflict.
"After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the training of all Japanese Americans who happened to be in the Army was suspended," Ishio said. "Some were reclassified and discharged. I, along with about 12 others, was sent to different military camps in the U.S., under constant surveillance. There may have been other similar groups, which, for six months were transferred from station to station. We were not trusted and were subjected to constant searches of our barracks and belongings.
"A War Department panel of representatives from the various Army branches, including the intelligence service, was established to determine what military use could be made of the estimated 20,000 Nisei of draft age at the time. The recommendations submitted by this panel were that the Nisei were of no military value, but that a few might be used for intelligence purposes. This small concession allowed the Nisei to attend the Military Intelligence Service Language School and to serve as intelligence language specialists in the Asia and Pacific theaters.
"I completed the course of study in what was called the Special Class consisting of Nisei who had a strong knowledge of the language. Upon graduation, I was assigned to I Corps Headquarters G-2 and was in New Guinea on the Owen Stanley Mountain Kokoda Trail by October, 1942, less than a year after Pearl Harbor. Many of my classmates were also assigned to Australian divisions. Throughout the war we were assigned to British, Canadian, Chinese and Indian forces.
"Our work processing captured documents and prisoners produced such valuable intelligence that the demand for our services resulted in a special recruiting effort to get volunteers for the MIS Language School. My first effort at reviewing what few documents were available at the time resulted in an order of battle study which was the first such intelligence available to the I Corps.
"Examples of the intelligence provided during the war included the complete list of enemy ships with their code names, the overall Japanese naval strategy for a final decisive battle in the Pacific, the list of Japanese Army officers, and numerous operational orders, intelligence summaries, personal diaries, etc. which provided such a vast volume of intelligence that General (Charles) Willoughby, the intelligence chief for General MacArthur, praised the work of the Nisei in the Pacific at a post war reunion by stating that the work of the Nisei linguists shortened the war in the Pacific by at least two years and saved countless thousands of lives.
"Although the Nisei were not allowed to go into the forward combat areas, many were sent to try to talk groups of enemy soldiers into surrendering. One such soldier was a Nisei from Hood River, Oregon, who was shot while attempting to convince some enemy soldiers to give up on Leyte. He died on the operating table, and while he was dying the people of Hood River decided to remove the names of the Japanese American servicemen on the honor list. The buddies of the dead Nisei were so incensed by this that they wrote home to their local newspapers resulting in such a loud outcry that the names of the Nisei on the Hood River list were restored."
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Editor's Note: Phil Ishio reports that the National Trust, St. John's Cathedral Completion Fundraising Board in Brisbane is seeking stories "funny or sad, historic or human interest" to include in a collection of stories of service personnel who were based in that Australian city during World War II. Mrs. Pete Nagle, fundraising manager for the US/Australian War Memorial Windows, said in a letter to Phil that she expected that these stories would include details of ATIS, once headquarters there.
The Memorial Windows are to be housed in the base of the South Tower of St. John's Cathedral in Brisbane.
"I was able to read your letter (which accompanied a donation by Phil for the fund) at a recent committee meeting in Brisbane and the majority of those present do remember the excellent work of the Japanese Americans." she said.
A memorial service and dedication of the windows are set for next October 22.
MY SPY" -- A BOOK REPORT -- by Grant Ichikawa
My Spy, Memoir of a CIA Wife is truly a fascinating book about the life of Joe Kiyonaga, a 442nd veteran who rose to high and important positions in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It was written by his wife of 30 years, Bina Cady Kiyonaga.
As Joe lay dying of cancer in the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, he asked Bina to bring a supply of pads and pencils for Joe wanted to dictate the details of his life as a CIA operative.
Daniel K. Inouye, U.S. Senator from Hawaii, commented, "Extraordinary and profound…emotionally and patriotically satisfying…a story that demonstrates that racial differences need not serve as obstacles to a happy union. My Spy is a story of America."
Chris Mathews, Washington Bureau chief of the San Francisco Examiner, wrote: "I love this story! It has everything -- youth, adventure, romance and intrigue -- propelled page after page by a joyous, unmistakably American spirit. Bina Kiyonaga has taken her technicolor life and given us a fabulous book."
Joe Kiyonaga was born on the island of Maui and was brought up on the island of Molokai. His parents were immigrants from Japan and were very poor. Joe was given his first pair of shoes for his grammar school graduation ceremony.
Although Joe looked to be part Caucasian, his mother steadfastly insisted that Joe was pure Japanese. This doubt drove his father to drink.
Joe grew up to be 6 foot 4 inches tall. Joe was extremely intelligent and won a scholarship to attend high school on Maui. He owned only one suit; a dark jacket and white trousers, all home-made. As class president, he ordered all graduating boys to wear a dark jacket and white trousers, thus avoiding a clothing dilemma for himself.
While Joe was attending the University of Hawaii, Pearl Harbor was bombed. When the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team was formed, Joe volunteered to prove that he was a loyal American.
Joe became part of the 3rd Battalion, M Company in the heavy weapons section. Joe received a battlefield commission and was decorated for valor. After the 442nd returned home, Joe, under the GI Bill, went to the University of Michigan, where he met Bina Cady, a daughter of a diplomat. They were married before Bina graduated.
After completing further university education, Joe was employed by the CIA. His first overseas tour was Tokyo, where his talents as an operative blossomed. His nest assignment was in Sao Paulo, under diplomatic cover as deputy base chief. He then was sent to El Salvador as the chief of the station there. It was during his assignment that his son, Paul, learned to speak Spanish fluently.
Joe's next assignment was Panama as chief of station. He then was sent back to Brazil as the chief of station, and it was on this assignment that he discovered that he had cancer.
This is a story of true love, adventure, intrigue, discrimination and sorrow as experienced by a socially prominent young lady who married a Japanese American 442nd veteran, Joe Kiyonaga, whose early life on Molokai was so simple that his first pair of shoes was for his grammar school graduation.
This fascinating book can be purchased from Politics and Prose Bookstore, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008 for around $24 plus shipping and handling.
Ruth Iseri, wife of fellow veteran Ken Iseri, passed away June 3 at the Fairfax Hospital. Funeral services were held at the Everly Funeral Home on Tuesday, June 7 with interment at the National Memorial Park in Fall Church, VA. JAVA members send their most heart-felt condolences to Ken and his family. She will be missed most sorrowfully.
DON'T FORGET TO VOTE
Joe Ichiuji, Co-chairman of the Nominating Committee, reminds all who have not done so yet, to send in their ballots for JAVA's election of officers (published in the March/April JAVA News) by the July 8th deadline for mailing. He reports that so far only one-fourth of the membership has responded.
The ballots should be sent to: Joe Ichiuji, 6544 Windermere Circle, Rockville, MD 20852.
SEMI-ANNUAL MEETING & ELECTIONS
JAVA's Semi-Annual Meeting and Elections occurs 11:30 a.m. Saturday, July 15 at the Harvest Moon Chinese Restaurant, 7260 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, VA. Phone: (703) 573-6000.
LTC Tom Hendrix, U.S. Army historian at the Army's Military History Institute will speak on the "Safekeeping of Your Military Documents." This will be followed by a count of the for officers for the 2000-2001 term.
Directions: From the Beltway, take Exit 8 to Falls Church on Arlington Blvd. (Route 50) East to Harvest Moon Restaurant (about 1-1/2 miles). From Downtown, take Route 50 (Constitution Ave. NW, across Roosevelt Memorial Bridge) for about 9 miles West to the Harvest Moon Restaurant.
Please reserve luncheon space(s) for _____ person(s) @ $12/person (tax & tip included).
I am enclosing $_______. Name:__________________________ Tel:_______________
Please make checks payable to JAVA and send to:
Ms. Miyako Newell
7036 Evergreen Drive
Waldorf, MD 20601.
Deadline for receipt of reservation is COB July 11.
(Editor's Note: When it rains it pours. JAVA News has received numerous articles and clippings of timely interest such as that below and will issue a SPECIAL EDITION shortly FYI.)
Inouye suggests removing all names from Japanese American Memorial
By Gregg K. Kakesako
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye says he may have a solution to a controversy surrounding an $11 million national Japanese American Memorial, which will be dedicated in November in Washington, D.C.
At the heart of the controversy is the planned inclusion of a modified portion of a 1941 ""creed""penned by a Japanese American Citizens League official that has reopened wounds form many mainland Japanese Americans.
Inouye, a decorated World War II veteran, said yesterday that a possible solution to the controversy is to remove all of the names and quotes from the memorial.
Mike Masaoka, who was field secretary during World War II for the JACL on the mainland, and the league’s role and position of cooperation and collaboration with the U.S. government during the wary has been a source of controversy among many mainland Japanese Americans uprooted from their homes after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and sent to relocation camps.
In congressional hearings I 1942, Masuoka testified that Japanese Americans would be willing to sacrifice their constitutional rights to show their "loyalty" by cooperating and going to these camps.
In the inscription, Masaoka said: "I am proud hat I am an American of Japanese ancestry. I believe in this nation'’ institutions, ideals and traditions; I glory in her heritage; I boast of her history; I trust in her future."
William Hohri, author and plaintiff in the 1984 class-action lawsuit for Japanese American redress, believes the memorial "may be as much a memorial to betrayal and falsified history as it is to patriotism."
Ron Takaki, former Hawaii resident and now professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said: "Many Japanese Americans are very troubled by Masaoka’s super-zealousness in cooperating and even supporting the unconstitutional policies of the federal government."
Besides Masaoka and Inouye, inscriptions of four other Japanese Americans will be included on the memorial. They are the former U.S. Rep. Norman Mineta, a Heart Mountain internee; U.S. Rep. Bob Matsui, a Tule Lake internee; Akemi Matsumoto Ehrlich; and former U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga.
Inouye, who lost his right arm fighting the Germans in Italy with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, said yesterday he hopes the controversy can be resolved soon.
In suggesting that all names be taken off the memorial, Inouye said: "I don’t think my name is all that important. I hope this matter is settled soon. It’s not good."
Inouye’s memorial inscription says: "The lessons learned must remain as a grave reminder of what we must not allow to happen again."