Monthly Hanashi Clip: Spending Thanksgiving overseas

During World War II, many American soldiers were fighting overseas while their families were celebrating Thanksgiving back home in the United States.

On Thanksgiving Day in 1944, Noboru Kagawa was among the Nisei soldiers of the 100th Infantry Battalion crossing through Belgium. Even though he was thousands of miles away and unable to spend the holiday with her, he was thinking of his beloved wife and decided to surprise her with a phone call.

The contributions and sacrifices made by the Nisei soldiers in the European and Pacific Theaters are one of the reasons why Americans, today, can continue to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with their families and loved ones.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Sharing the National Digital Archives of Japanese American Military Service with the World

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

As a public historian, I am always excited when history is shared with the wider public.  Historical photographs, videos, and documents should always be shared with as many people as possible.  History belongs to the public, not to dusty old boxes and forgotten attics.

That is why I am so excited about the National Digital Archives of Japanese American Military Service.  Finally, through our efforts, the history of the courageous Japanese American soldiers of World War II can be shared far and wide.  Here are just a few of the people who will benefit:

Students: Grade school, high school, and college students will now have thousands of photographs and thousands of hours of oral history footage to use for class projects.  Never before have they had so much interesting primary source information at their fingertips!

Teachers: Likewise, teachers will now have easy access to an almost unlimited supply of primary sources.  This fits perfectly with the latest state and federal curriculum guidelines, which emphasize the use of original materials.

Scholars: Professional historians and researchers will now have digital access to thousands of personal photographs and first-hand accounts.  

Authors and Filmmakers: With all of these new resources digitized, authors and filmmakers will be able to create countless new books and videos highlighting the Japanese American soldier experience.

Families: Perhaps most importantly, the families of the veterans will finally have easy access to their stories.  Children and grandchildren will be able to explore the courageous histories online, learning firsthand the heroic stories of their parents and grandparents.

And many more!  The number of people who will now be able to explore this history is simply immeasurable.  We are so excited and so thrilled to share these materials with the public!   

Remembering Tetsuo Asato

In honor of Veteran’s Day, this entry is dedicated to a special World War II Nisei veteran, Tetsuo Asato, who fought with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and was one of the Go For Broke National Education Center organization’s founding members, who recently passed away.

Tetsuo Asato grew up on a farm in El Monte, California with his Issei parents and three siblings. His life was turned around after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 – his father was taken by the FBI and sent to Tuna Canyon detention center, while he and his family were forcibly removed to the Pomona Assembly Center, and later, to Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming. Fortunately, his father was released from the Santa Fe detention facility and transferred to Heart Mountain to rejoin his family. While at Heart Mountain, Tets passed the time topping sugar beets for local farmers and working for the Fire Department within camp, but was later drafted into the segregated Japanese American military unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

In this video clip, Tets talks about how he learned about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Infantry Battalion while in camp, and his initial thoughts about being drafted.

Tets completed his basic training at Camp Shelby, and was assigned to G Company – one of the 442nd RCT replacement outfits sent to the European Theater. He was sent to fight in the Northern Apennine Mountains in France, which was part of the Gothic Line and Po Valley Campaign. He was awarded a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, as well as other unit citations for his military service.  After returning home from the war, he settled in Los Angeles, California, raised a family, and started his own insurance company.

He also became quite active in the Japanese American community, participating in various clubs and organizations — one of which was the Go For Broke National Education Center.

Tets Asato was one of the greats. His involvement with this organization goes all the way back to the beginning. As a founding board member, he and his fellow veterans raised over a million dollars to build the Monument. He was the chairman of the Veteran Monument Committee and for over 4 months, he was personally at the site almost every day overseeing construction. After it was built, Tets, George Fujimori, and Ken Akune (otherwise known as the 3 musketeers) served as dedicated docents 3 times a week and would meet at the office before heading to downtown.

Tets also served as an active board member for over 22 years, and as co-chair then acting chair in 2009. He was one of our “go-to” guys for speaking engagements and would always step up as a team leader for every grassroots fundraiser. As Ken Ito said, he was a bulldog. He was tough – he worked hard and got results, in any endeavor that he undertook. He put so much of his time, effort and resources into making this organization successful. Ask any staff member that knew him and they’ll tell you that he was one of the main reasons they worked as hard as they did for GFBNEC.-Barbara Coons, Staff at Go For Broke National Education Center

Tets Asato was one of many Nisei veterans who fought for this country during World War II, and he will be greatly missed.

Today, we also remember and honor ALL of the veterans who have fought, and continue to fight, to protect this country.

Happy Veteran’s Day!

The Power of Photographs

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

Photos are powerful. Without using any words, they can show a depth of emotions. They can capture events better than any text ever could. They are a snapshot in time, forever able to take viewers back to a moment, an event, a struggle, a triumph.

At Go For Broke National Education Center, our archives are full of powerful photographs. They capture the Japanese American soldiers of World War II – and their families – in many different lights. Some photos show the men in the chaos of battle. Others show them lined up in rigid discipline during basic training. But most photos simply capture the soldiers in their most natural element – as young men spending time with one another, joking, laughing, shooting the breeze. These images humanize our heroes. They remind us that between each horrific battle, these young men were people just like the rest of us.

From time to time, we will use this blog to share photos of these heroes as everyday young men. We will show you images of them playing games, smiling, and chatting with twinkles in their eyes. We will show them living.

Here is one of my favorites. Tell us what you think of this photograph – what does it mean to you?

Chris Blog 4 Photo - Camp Savage, 1942_Courtesy of Vincenzo Peluso and Toyoko Yamane-Peluso
Camp Savage, 1942. Courtesy of Vincenzo Peluso and Toyoko Yamane-Peluso.