Thursday, July 4, 2013
Jake "Going For Broke" On The 4th Of July
Although we (meaning our own United States government) authorized the internment of somewhere around 110,000 Japanese-Americans living on the West coast during World War II, they thought it was just fine to allow some of these same prisoners to lay down their lives, fighting for the very government who chose to leave them out in some of the more God-forsaken desert areas available.
Most were nisei - first-generation Japanese, born in the U.S; grouped as "enemy aliens" (4C) shortly after the bombing at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
All of the Japanese in Hawai'i weren't hauled away... that would have involved relocating over 150,000 - one-third of the island population - but they did imprison between 1,200 and 1,800 of them, over 60% of them american citizens. Those left "free" were subjected to discrimination and abuse from mile to severe.
Members of my own family have shared tales I won't go into here, but one I will share was a visit to one of their homes from the military who took away their radio and returned it with the parts that might allow a transmission removed. I guess macadamia nut farmers were a threat, but they were lucky, compared to many others.
While the internment to these "War Relocation Camps" was sometimes justified as being "for their own protection", it was, to many clearer-thinking folks, a knee-jerk reaction. Another fine example of mob mentality in many cases, in my less than humble opinion. A sister-in-law and a few cousins were born behind barbed wire fences, and many lost their land and the personal possessions they couldn't carry with them, if they were allowed to take much of anything.
The most notable regiment of them all was the 442nd Infantry Regiment that fought in Italy, France and Germany. When I say fought, I mean fought... the 442nd was the most decorated regiment in U.S. military history, called the Purple Heart Battalion. The motto they marched to was "Go for broke," and they fought just as bravely as any others - perhaps more so.
Many decades later, my friend Jake Shimabukuro put together a tribute to this group, and used their motto as the title. Jake is a noted virtuoso on the ukulele, and I thought I'd give him a minor plug while tipping my hat to my late family member who was one of the heros of the 442nd. For obvious reasons I'm not posting a personal picture of Jake to the blog here, but he's both a good man and a fine looking guy. There are plenty of images on his web site.
Thank you Jake, and most of all thank you Art, wherever your spirit is today. When the "rocket's red glare" light the sky tonight, I'll think of you.
Happy 4th of July, everyone. Have a safe holiday.