WASHINGTON — Nov. 11 was a very busy and rewarding day for members of the Japanese American Veterans Association.
JAVA partnered with the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation and the Pan Pacific Leaders and Mentors for the 11th annual Veterans Day event at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in World War II in Washington, D.C.
JAVA President Gerald Yamada, NJAMF Board Chairman Daniel Matthews, and PPALM Executive Director Lt. Col. Michael Yaguchi, U.S. Air Force (retired) each shared a few thoughts with the audience before the keynote address was delivered by Michael Cardarelli, principal deputy undersecretary for benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Carderelli, a retired Army colonel, paid homage to the “giants” who served heroically in previous conflicts, and honored the exceptional service of those serving today.
He related what a privilege it was to serve veterans in his leadership role with DVA. “I am humbled to get to care for the legacy giants of our profession of arms … and I am so honored to be in a position to make good on our obligation to repay what truly cannot be repaid for their service to our nation and our community.”
The ceremony was closed by JAVA Executive Director Col. Bruce Hollywood, USAF (retired), who remarked, “Mr. Carderelli has an impressive resume, but what is even more impressive is his heart for veterans. We are fortunate to have leaders of passion and integrity caring for these members of our society who answered duty’s call.”
Earlier in the morning, JAVA helped prepare for and participated in Veterans Day events at the White House and Arlington National Cemetery as an associate member of the Veterans Day National Committee.
JAVA was represented at the White House Veterans Day Breakfast, held in the East Room, by Executive Committee members Hollywood, and Lt. Col. Kay Wakatake, U.S. Army, who joined other members of the committee and invited guests. After breakfast, they met with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and their wives.
Wakatake commented, “It was incredible. What an honor to meet with the leaders of our great nation on Veterans Day.”
The midday ceremony at Arlington, sponsored by DVA, was a major event for the nation as well as JAVA. Commanders of Veterans Service Organizations, including Yamada, witnessed Obama laying the national wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown.
VSO commanders then moved to the Amphitheater, where each commander was recognized by name over the public address system and they viewed the parade of colors, including Lt. Col. Allen Goshi, U.S. Army, and Korean War veteran Chosei Kuge carrying the flags of the U.S. and JAVA, respectively.
The president addressed the nation and Americans abroad, saying, “That’s what we do in America. We take care of our own. We take care of our veterans. We take care of your families. Not just by saluting you on one day once a year, but by fighting for you and your families every day of every year.”