I prefer to watch movies that make me laugh or inspire me. I no longer wish to be frightened, scared or angry, and am less tolerant of violence and tension. I’m sure there are great movies exploring the darker side of humanity, but my body now gives me cues to minimize my exposure to those themes.
Recently, I saw a movie called “442: Live with Honor, Die with Dignity,” a story about the Japanese Americans who fought in World War II, becoming the most decorated military unit in U.S. history. They suffered tremendous casualties and prejudice, but accomplished incredible feats of military success and self-sacrifice.
A psychologist in the film said they presented a different profile than other veterans in that their war recollections were focused on the positive, with their attention on the future. This attitude toward adversity helped them survive the war and eventually succeed in life.
One of most famous battles in U.S. military history involved the 442. These soldiers were given the impossible tasks of rescuing a group of Texas soldiers in Italy who had become trapped by the Germans. For months, other regiments had tried to rescue them but failed. The 442 knew they were expendable, but accepted the assignment as an opportunity to prove their worth and patriotism. They took the attitude of “go for broke,” meaning they would give it their all, even if it meant dying in the process. They rescued the lost battalion at a great cost to their own survival.
Many of the soldiers came from Hawaii, where they volunteered for active duty, wanting to contribute to the war effort, but many also came from the mainland after they had been forced to live in internment camps in desolate areas under prison-like conditions. How many people today would be willing to volunteer to serve their country after their constitutional rights as U.S. citizens had been taken away?
These second-generation Japanese Americans had no choice in the type of job available to them. It didn’t matter if the person had a high school diploma or a fifth-grade education — the only jobs available were labor jobs. How would most of us deal with that scenario?
Perhaps we should all look for stories of hope and inspiration to keep us positive. Here was a group of soldiers who helped pave the way for future generations of Japanese Americans to live a better life, one filled with more tolerance, respect and opportunity.
Inspiration gives me a feeling of expansion, an elevation to a higher state of being, a feeling of pride, hope and excitement for the future. Inspiration makes me feel anything is possible. Let’s look for inspiration and give inspiration so we can exceed our current expectations.
Sheila Yonemoto, P.T., has been a physical therapist for over 30 years, specializing in Integrative Manual Therapy utilizing a holistic approach. She can be reached at Yonemoto Physical Therapy, 55 S. Raymond Ave., Suite 100, Alhambra, CA 91801. Call (626) 576-0591 for a free consultation, or visit www.yonemoto.com for more information.