LETTERS: Remembering the ‘real Senate redress hero,’ Spark Matsunaga

Dear Editor:

In the run-up to the Heart Mountain [Interpretive Learning Center] opening, [former Senator] Alan Simpson said to a Wyoming reporter that redress couldn’t have been done without me. This was all very nice, but on the Senate floor in the spring of 1988, Simpson voted for an amendment offered by Jesse Helms to strip all of the money out of our bill. Had that amendment passed, and it had more support than anyone suspected, redress would have meant nothing. Simpson later voted for the final bill with the money in it.

The only real Senate redress hero is the now forgotten [former Senator] Spark Matsunaga, who after three years of intense work, nailed down 71 of the 72 co-sponsors of the Senate bill — an achievement acknowledged by [Sen.] Daniel Inouye in a floor speech on the day of passage. The 72nd co-sponsor was Alan Simpson, whose assent was obtained by someone who was not a Member of Congress.

Not a word was said about [the late] Spark Matsunaga at the opening, but all Japanese Americans should remember what he did for our community and our place in American history. That great and gentle man should not be someone forgotten among us nor among scholars and students of redress to come.

 

Grant Ujifusa
JACL-LEC Strategy Chair, 1982-1993
Chappaqua, New York

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