This story originally ran in our Nisei Week supplement on August 5, 2014. To purchase a printed copy of the supplement, visit our office or call us at 213-629-2231.
The Nisei Week Foundation is proud to be hosting its annual summer event with free cultural activities for all ages. This year marks the 74th annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival with the Grand Parade as part of its first weekend of events, making its way through the streets of Little Tokyo on Sunday, Aug. 10, starting at 4 p.m.
The parade will be led by the 2014 grand marshal, Hershey Miyamura, Medal of Honor recipient and World War II and Korean War veteran, and parade marshal, Hello Kitty, the beloved icon recognized worldwide who celebrates her 40th anniversary this year. The procession starts at Central Avenue and head east on Second Street, turning north on San Pedro Street, turning east on First Street, then turning south and ending on Central Avenue.
“The theme of this year’s Nisei Week Japanese Festival is ‘Continuing the Legacy,’ or in Japanese, ‘Keizoku wa Chikara,’ which recognizes the rich history of the Nikkei in the Southern California region,” said Masao Mike Okamoto, Nisei Week Foundation president. “It’s amazing how we are able to carry on this cultural legacy in Little Tokyo year after year. We are honored to have Medal of Honor recipient Hershey Miyamura as our grand marshal as his story is a part of the Nikkei legacy we seek to preserve. In addition, our parade marshal, Hello Kitty, is a cultural icon to so many locally and globally and we are very pleased to have her with us this year.”
The parade will feature traditional Japanese taiko drum performers, local community groups, high schools, elected officials and representatives from Nagoya, Los Angeles’ sister city in Japan, and the newly crowned 2014 Nisei Week Queen and Court.
Hiroshi H. Miyamura, also known as Hershey Miyamura, was a United States Army soldier who received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, for his actions in the Korean War. Miyamura was born on born Oct. 6, 1925, in Gallup, New Mexico to Japanese immigrant parents.
Miyamura volunteered to be part of the all-Nisei 100th Infantry Battalion during World War II. He was discharged from the Army shortly after Japan surrendered. Following the war, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve, and was recalled to active duty following the start of the Korean War.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on April 24-25, 1951, near Taejon-ni, Korea, while serving as a corporal in the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. His was the first Medal of Honor to be classified “top secret.” Miyamura was captured by the North Koreans and held as a prisoner of war immediately after the actions that led to his award.
He was a POW for 28 months. Following his release on Aug. 20, 1953, he was repatriated to the U.S. and honorably discharged shortly thereafter. His medal was presented to him by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in October 1953 at the White House.
His Medal of Honor citation reads:
“Cpl. Miyamura, a member of Company H, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. On the night of 24 April, Company H was occupying a defensive position when the enemy fanatically attacked threatening to overrun the position. Cpl. Miyamura, a machine gun squad leader, aware of the imminent danger to his men, unhesitatingly jumped from his shelter wielding his bayonet in close hand-to-hand combat, killing approximately 10 of the enemy. Returning to his position, he administered first aid to the wounded and directed their evacuation.
“As another savage assault hit the line, he manned his machine gun and delivered withering fire until his ammunition was expended. He ordered the squad to withdraw while he stayed behind to render the gun inoperative. He then bayoneted his way through infiltrated enemy soldiers to a second gun emplacement and assisted in its operation.
“When the intensity of the attack necessitated the withdrawal of the company, Cpl. Miyamura ordered his men to fall back while he remained to cover their movement. He killed more than 50 of the enemy before his ammunition was depleted and he was severely wounded. He maintained his magnificent stand despite his painful wounds, continuing to repel the attack until his position was overrun.
“When last seen, he was fighting ferociously against an overwhelming number of enemy soldiers. Cpl. Miyamura’s indomitable heroism and consummate devotion to duty reflect the utmost glory on himself and uphold the illustrious traditions on the military service.”
Miyamura and his wife Terry (Tsuchimori) have three children and four grandchildren, one of whom is an officer in the U.S. Air Force. Since his discharge from the Army, he has resided in Gallup, where he established a career as an automobile mechanic and service station owner. Miyamura remains active in supporting fellow veterans, including work with the Wounded Warrior Project.
Hello Kitty, created by parent company Sanrio to inspire happiness, friendship, and sharing around the world, celebrates her 40th anniversary in 2014. Hello Kitty is a global brand and pop icon, yet has always upheld the essence of the “small gift, big smile” philosophy upon which Sanrio was founded. Since her debut on a small vinyl coin purse in Japan in 1974, Hello Kitty’s presence has extended worldwide, establishing her as a beloved brand embraced by fans globally.
As part of her 40th anniversary, Sanrio will present a multitude of events and festivities throughout the year to thank fans and pay tribute to Hello Kitty’s cultural heritage rooted in Japan, while celebrating her influence on American culture. In addition to serving as the parade marshal, Hello Kitty will partner with the Japanese American National Museum.
The first exhibition of its kind in the world, “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty” will reside at JANM for six months, launching Oct. 11 and running through April 26, 2015. The exhibition will offer fans the opportunity to explore the evolution of Hello Kitty through a product retrospective of rare and iconic pieces from Sanrio’s archives, an art exhibit featuring more than 40 mixed-media works by contemporary artists, lectures, and workshops offering hands-on activities. The exhibition will also explore fans’ emotional connection to the brand, offering insight on Hello Kitty’s influence on bridging Japanese and American cultures.
The exhibit will coincide with another world premiere event being held in honor of Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, Hello Kitty Con 2014 – The Fan Convention. Taking place at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, this four-day event places Hello Kitty fans at the center of the ultimate interactive experience, offering a full lineup of activations, such as a Hello Kitty Super Supermarket, limited edition product exclusives, integrated workshops, panel discussions, art installations, and more.