The Japanese American Incarceration Memorial Legacy Project made two stops in Southern California over the weekend — Saturday at the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center in West Covina and Sunday at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Johnny Cepeda Gogo has been traveling around the country, inviting Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II to sign vintage 48-star American flags, to be displayed at JANM, Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and other community institutions. Former incarcerees were accompanied by their children and grandchildren; in some cases, children and grandchildren signed on behalf of their deceased parents and grandparents. Veterans were asked to sign the stars.

Above: At JANM, Robert Takata (Tule Lake) is joined by granddaughters Sasha and Seren as he signs. Below: He was also accompanied by wife Kathleen (Wakiji), who was born in Gila River (Sunday was her birthday), and son James.

Among those who signed was Shig Yabu, author of the children’s book “Hello Maggie!” With Willie Ito providing illustrations, he wrote about a magpie that was his childhood pet at Heart Mountain.

Prentiss Uchida (Heart Mountain) with son Kansai Uchida and grandchildren Cooper and Olive Nash.

Alice (Yamamoto) Wakatani (Gila River), was accompanied by daughter Shari Shigenaga and granddaughter Kaelyn Shigenaga. Not pictured: Melissa Miura, Shari’s niece and Alice’s granddaughter.

Kazuko and Kenneth Nakaba. She was sent to Topaz when she was 2 weeks old, after being born at Tanforan Assembly Center; he was sent to Amache, when he was 4 months old.

Yae (Kanogawa) Aihara (Crystal City and Minidoka) with daughter-in-law Chris Aihara.

Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo

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  1. The San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center in Pacoima is having the flag signing at our annual Veterans Memorial Day Service on Sunday, May 29th. We are honored to be able to sign it in the Valley.