Irene Hirano Inouye with Nisei riders on the Go For Broke float in the Rose Parade in 2015. (Photo by Jason Kusagaya)

I’ve been thinking about how much Irene Hirano Inouye has meant to me and our Japanese American community ever since of her passing.

I would like to add my feeling of sorrow on Irene’s passing. As a charter member of the Japanese American National Museum, I was fortunate to become acquainted with her as the founding president/CEO and we became friends. I was soon impressed with her dedication and quiet, effective leadership on behalf of the museum and the Japanese American community.

As Norman Mineta, George Takei, others, and the obituary have stated in **The Rafu,** her work and influence reached out to our community and far beyond. I was very impressed with the tribute to her at the recent Virtual Gala of JANM.

We attended the Gila Camp Reunion in 1995 in Phoenix. I remember that she and George Takei were the keynote speakers.They both did us proud in their inspirational remarks. Their remarks preceded the bus ride to the concentration camp sites of Butte and Canal and made the revisit more meaningful.

We have also enjoyed seeing Irene and her late husband, Sen. Daniel Inouye, at 442nd RCT reunions in Honolulu.

Thus her visit to the Go For Broke Float in the 2015 Tournament of Roses Parade was special. She came to the staging area before the parade began.

Irene will continue to be an inspiration to me and the Japanese American and Asian American community for years to come.


Yoshio C. Nakamura

442nd RCT Veteran, Educator and Artist

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