Post written by Chris Brusatte, Exhibit Manager at Go For Broke National Education Center
Why do I love our archives so much? Because the photographs and oral histories remind me that these heroes of World War II were still ordinary people just like all of us. Yes, they faced bullets and prejudice, and their courage and accomplishments will always dwarf mine. But they were also ordinary young men and women with ordinary lives, ordinary habits, ordinary families and friends, and ordinary feelings that are common to us all. They were human, and by knowing that they were human, it makes their heroics that much more impressive.
Check out this picture below, straight from our archives. It was donated to us by Hiroshi Mizuki. The photo shows Dick Narasaki, Frank Ichimoto, and Joe Nagata at Pen Beach in Livorno, Italy. In their smiles, casual glances, and relaxed postures, they are like any young men enjoying a day at the beach. There is little in the picture, other than Army-issued clothing, to suggest that they are in the middle of a war.
So what is the big message? That even heroes are just ordinary people like you and me, and that ordinary people like you and me can become heroes. It takes remarkable courage, integrity, sacrifice, and compassion, but it is possible. Superheroes do not need capes and x-ray vision. Just like these young men at the beach, heroes just need to step up with courage when people depend on them.