The grassroots campaign to recognize the contributions of the Nisei World War II soldiers with a U.S. postage stamp has gained new backing from Congress, and outreach continues with grassroots help.
Four Republicans recently spoke out in support for the stamp, which makes 41 bipartisan members of Congress so far this year. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) this month in a support letter in favor of the stamp.
Reps. Ed Royce (R-Brea) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) sent letters last week to U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan urging her to issue the stamp.
Brennan is currently considering a stamp subject proposal that would tell the Nisei story through the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, located in Washington, D.C. The soldiers are the cornerstone of the memorial, which tells their story within the context of the incarceration of Japanese Americans.
“While the Nisei of World War II have been honored by military decorations and the Congressional Gold Medal, many Americans are unaware of their story and their extraordinary contributions in the face of intolerable prejudice,” wrote Murkowski in her Aug. 15 letter. “It is fitting to again tell the story of these brave, selfless Americans and to bear witness to the fact that we are a nation of immigrants whose patriotism runs deep. I encourage you to not only support this request, but to champion this opportunity to honor the Nisei and the best of the American spirit.”
Young highlighted the outstanding service of the Nisei in his Sept. 9 letter, and mentioned his late friend and colleague Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a Medal of Honor recipient. “These servicemembers not only accomplished their assigned missions, but did so with incredible heroics…. To ensure that we do all we can to honor the incredible actions of the Nisei veterans, I strongly support the effort to issue a stamp to honor the service and sacrifice of these brave men and women.”
Alaska joins Hawaii as the only states that have unanimous support for the stamp from their congressional delegations.
Two House members from Orange County added their names to the voices of support. “These American patriots rose to the occasion and served their country admirably despite the war hysteria and prejudice against them,” wrote Royce in his Sept. 8 letter. “I applaud the USPS for considering a proposal to create a stamp featuring the Memorial…. I believe that this would be an appropriate way to recognize the Japanese Americans who served our country admirably and support issuing a stamp.”
Rohrabacher stated in his Sept. 9 letter, “These American patriots answered their nation’s call despite overwhelming prejudice against them and paid the ultimate price. For this they deserve our gratitude.”
The Stamp Our Story Campaign has been pushing hard this year, hoping that the Postal Service will release a stamp in 2017, the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s action led to the incarceration of Japanese Americans, mainly from West Coast states, during the war years.
Stamp selection at the Postal Service is held in secret by the postmaster general and her 15-member Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. They meet quarterly behind closed doors to choose new stamp subjects for coming years. Thousands of proposals are received each year. Only stamp subject proposals are accepted, not designs or visuals.
Current efforts are focusing on getting as many members of Congress and governors to voice support as possible, especially in regions affected most by the wartime incarceration. In May, Gov. Jerry Brown became the first governor to send a letter in support of the campaign to the postmaster general.
Following is the list of supporters in Congress as of September, in alphabetical order:
Reps. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), Julia Brownley (D-Oxnard), Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley), Susan Davis (D-San Diego), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Walnut Creek), Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), Sam Farr (D-Salinas), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaiii), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Mike Honda (D-San Jose), Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles), Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Grace Napolitano (D-Monterey Park), Scott Peters (D-San Diego), Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), Ed Royce (R-Brea), Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo), Eric Swalwell (D-Pleasanton), the late Mark Takai (D-Hawaii), Mark Takano (D-Riverside), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Don Young (R-Alaska)
Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office has stated that she does not write letters of support on such issues. Sen. Barbara Boxer has not yet stated her position.
For more information, go to the official campaign website at www.StampOurStory.org. Copies of the letters from Congress are available to be read online.