Why Are Oral Histories So Powerful?

Post written by Chris Brusatte, Exhibit Manager at Go For Broke National Education Center

Why are oral histories so powerful? Because they record firsthand experiences from the very people who lived them. They are history straight from the source.

That is why our organization spends so much time, energy, and resources to record the oral histories of as many Japanese American veterans as we can. Since 1998, Go For Broke National Education Center has recorded over 1,180 oral histories, and we’re still going strong. We’ve become the world’s largest collection of Japanese American WWII veterans’ life histories.

My favorite part of our oral histories is the wisdom that the veterans impart to the younger generations. At the end of each interview, we ask them what messages they would like to pass on to youth today. Here are some of my favorite – and most inspiring – answers:

Americans, you are free. So guard the freedom as much as you can through being a Good Samaritan. And teach your children and their children what we went through. Keep on going so that this world can be one.

Larry Kodama

Every one of us that grew up in this country, we share the same hopes and dreams. We want to share these dreams. I guess we only hope that for our children.

Mitsunobu Kojimoto

If you show them that what we did was for our country, then I hope they’ll follow in our footsteps.

Hideo Kami

I firmly believe then, now, and in the future, that you have to stand up and fight for what you think is right. Because if you don’t, who is? The next guy? Well, maybe you’re the next guy. You have to stand up and fight for what you think is right. And of course fighting means in different ways, not necessarily just going into the military or going to war. There’s all kinds of ways of fighting.

Harry Fukuhara

Check out more of our oral histories online!



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