An inclusive tribute to the Nisei WWII veterans

PROUD TO SERVE: JAPANESE AMERICAN WORLD WAR II VETERANS

PROUD TO SERVE: JAPANESE AMERICAN WORLD WAR II VETERANS

PROUD TO SERVE: JAPANESE AMERICAN WORLD WAR II VETERANS
Edited by Chris Komai (Los Angeles: Rafu Shimpo and Japanese American Living Legacy 2012, 390 pp., $29.95, paperback)

This is a wonderful compilation and recognition of Nisei men and women who served in all the units besides Military Intelligence Service, 100th Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during one of America’s darkest times. Unlike other publications dedicated to telling the story of various battles, casualties, number of medals, and their super human exploits of the Nisei soldier in all theaters during World War II (it does that too), this publications offers to families and others a format that they will “ideally find useful and gratifying.”

This publication succeeds in both being useful and gratifying; it should be on every coffee table for the new year. What is gratifying is the attempt of this publication to be as inclusive as possible moving beyond simplistic the false dichotomy of “loyal and disloyal” that for many still “fog” our history.

While the major portion of this commemorative publication focuses on the nation finally recognizing with the Congressional Gold Medal presentation the contributions of the 100th, the 442nd and MIS, it also pays tribute by listing the “KIA” (Killed in Action) who gave their life in a variety of units (not all Nikkei served in segregated units). Moreover, there is listing of Nikkei women who participated in the war effort, one listing of engineers who were stationed in Hawai‘i and perhaps the not so well known 1800th “Soldiers of Conscience,” an Engineer Service Battalion made up of Americans who resisted serving while their families were unfairly incarcerated by their government.

And this publication finally is gratifying and useful because it recognizes Nikkei who served in various branches of the military and includes many poignant personal stories sprinkled throughout the book about these veterans from children, grandchildren and uncles they never knew. Perhaps in the future, as revisions become necessary, a hardbound volume might be considered.

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