JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION
IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Vol. II
April 17, 2006 No. 9
CONTACT: Terry Shima (301-987-6746); email@example.com)
FOR PHOTO: Access JAVA website, www.javadc.org. On left side scroll to Press Release and click on heading below. Pictures embedded in article.
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NJAMF HONORS AFRICAN AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER, US SENATOR, AND PHILIPPINE SCOUTS. CONTRIBUTIONS OF WOMEN RECOGNIZED. MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, TWO CABINET SECRETARIES, BUSINESS LEADERS AND FIFTEEN ASIAN AMERICAN GENERALS AND ADMIRALS ATTEND AWARD DINNER.
By Japanese American Veterans Association
Washington, D.C. The National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF), which was responsible for the construction of the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During WW II on November 9, 2000, held its third annual award banquet for approximately 350 people on April 6, 2006 at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, Washington, D.C. The Chairman’s Award, presented to “an individual whose leadership has significantly raised the nation’s awareness of the Japanese American contributions,” was awarded to retired US Senator Alan K, Simpson.
The Award for Constitutional Rights, presented to “an individual whose contributions to constitutional rights have materially” advanced the “principles of diversity and unity”, was awarded to Congressman John Lewis. The Award for Patriotism, presented to an “individual whose military or other contributions to the nation’s peace, security and welfare exemplify the spirit of patriotism”, was awarded to the Philippine Scouts.
Dr. Warren Minami, NJAMF Chair Emeritus, said that the Memorial to Patriotism represents three significant events: (1) the “greatest mass abrogation of civil liberties” of 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry, (2) in the face of this discriminatory act, over 25,000 men and women of Japanese ancestry showed their patriotism by serving in the US military, 811 making the supreme sacrifice, and (3) the greatness of America by admitting that it has committed a wrong and by offering a public apology by the US Congress and the President.
Tribute was also paid to American men and women veterans, the National Guard, reserves and active duty personnel. Mistress of Ceremonies was Tamlyn Tomita, star of television, films and theater projects. She held her audience spellbound with her skills in languages, command of the stage, and magnetic personality. She is also admired for her spontaneous and total support to community events.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta, who first met Senator Simpson at the Heart Mountain Internment Center when he was 12 years old and both were Boy Scouts, praised the Senator for his leadership role in the enactment of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, known as the redress legislation for Japanese Americans. The Senator was not able to attend the Dinner but provided his warm acceptance remarks on two large video screens.
US Senator Daniel K. Inouye singled out the 10,000 Philippine Scouts, who volunteered to serve in the US Army, for hastening the defeat of Imperial Japan. Inouye said the Filipino warriors exemplary performance in combat won for them three Medals of Honor, 40 Distinguished Service Crosses, and over 200 Silver Stars. Inouye commended the Scouts for their courage in jungle warfare, skill in intelligence collection and transmission, and patriotism against an overwhelming invading force. Their capture and quick turnover to American forces of the “Z” Plan, the Japanese naval forces master plan to annihilate the US Navy in western Pacific, translated by Japanese American Military Intelligence Service linguists in Australia and provided to US naval commanders in the Pacific, aided significantly in thwarting the Japanese naval attack and ensuring command of the sea lane for the invasion of Japan. Senators Daniel Akaka and Inouye are the authors and principal sponsors of SR 146, also known as the Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2005. For many years he has led the campaigns in the US Senate for the recognition and granting of veterans benefits to Filipino WW II veterans.
Lt. General Edward Soriano, US Army, Ret., former commanding general of the
1st Army Corps and son of a Philippine Scout, received the award on behalf of
the Philippine Scouts. Also on stage to receive the Award on behalf of the
Philippine Scouts was Captain Menardro Parazo, US Army, Ret. Colonel Melvin
Rosen, US Army, Ret.; Major Jose Baltazar, Philippine Army, Ret.; and 1st Lt.
Jose Gineto, Philippine Army, Ret., later joined them on stage. Parazo and Rosen
were defenders of Bataan and survivors of the Death March.
Congressman Mike Honda, Chair of the Congressional Asia Pacific Caucus, extolled fellow Congressman John Lewis, son of Alabama share croppers, as “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced”. Lewis has been in the “vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States”, Honda said. As a young boy, Lewis was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. At that point, he made a decision to become part of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1965 the Congressman helped spearhead one of the most significant Civil Rights movements. He helped lead over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday”. News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In accepting the Constitutional Rights Award, Congressman Lewis, in commenting on the forcible evacuation and incarceration of Japanese Americans, said to a standing ovation, “this unconstitutional act must never happen again”.
Ms. Elaine L. Chao, US Secretary of Labor, said that President George W. Bush has appointed “nearly 300 Asian Pacific Americans” to the highest levels of the federal government, and “for the first time in history, two Asian Pacific Americans serve in the Cabinet” in both of his administrations.
Eric Y. Nishizawa, Chair of the Awards Dinner, said fifteen Asian American generals and admirals, including General Eric Shinseki, USA, Ret., were present. Since WW II some 64 Asian Pacific Americans have been promoted to generals and admirals: Army (42), Air Force (12), Navy (7), Marines (1), Public Health (2). This figure includes three Asian American women.
Philippine Ambassador Albert F. del Rosario described the formation of the Philippine Scouts in the early 1900’s, the US Congress approval to induct them into the US Regular Army, their expertise in jungle warfare, their becoming the most formidable force against the Japanese Imperial Army, their courage in the battle of Bataan and Corregidor, and their fierce defense of democratic values. The Ambassador credited the Scouts for saving his life when, at age 5, he was seriously wounded in a combat crossfire and was given up for dead. In addition to General Soriano, Major General Antonio Taguba, US Army, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, Training and Mobilization in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, is also a son of a Philippine Scout.
A fifteen minute video of Japanese American women contributions in WW II was presented with narration by Kristine Minami. During the forcible evacuation from their homes on the west coast of the United States and subsequent incarceration in 10 camps in desolate locations, the mothers’ primary task was to care for the family, to keep them together and focused, Minami said. The young women in their late teens and twenties left the camps for work, universities and the military for which about 500 volunteered. Chizuko Shinagawa reflected the attitude of that group: “It’s a wonderful opportunity for my people to participate actively in the greatest battle for democracy the world has ever known. By serving in the WAC, I found the true meaning of democracy. … All Americans, whatever their ancestry, must remember that they will be judged in the future by the role they play now.” Jane Nishida’s generous donation of the book, “Serving our Country: Japanese American Women in the Military During WW II” by Brenda L. Moore, professor at University of Buffalo, New York, enabled each attendee the opportunity to learn more of the Nisei women’s wartime contributions.
Mitsuye Endo, a civil service employee for the state of California who was forcibly evacuated and interned, was also cited for her courage in challenging the constitutionality of the forced removals. Her long court struggle culminated in December 1944 when the Supreme Court of the US ruled that Endo had clearly established her loyalty and there were not sufficient grounds for confinement. Associate Justice Frank Murphy said, “It is another example of the unconstitutional resort to racism in the entire evacuation program.” This decision helped accelerate the suspension of the exclusion order and allowed the internees to return to their homes on the West Coast.