Yoshio Nakamura served in M Company, 3rd Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. From “The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage” by Shane Sato.

In recognition of the 80th anniversaries of President Franklin D. Roosevelt issuing Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, and the opening of Manzanar in late March 1942, the National Park Service is hosting a Day of Remembrance virtual event and an on-site showing of part of photographer Shane Sato’s “Go For Broke Spirit” exhibit.

The contemporary — and contemplative — photos feature Japanese American veterans of World War II, wearing military uniforms. The nine larger-than-life portraits are accompanied by short biographies about the men and small candid photos showing how they looked during World War II.

“I want people to remember what they did when they had everything against them,” Sato said.

Manzanar Acting Superintendent Brenda Ling reflected, “The haunting images and accompanying essays are emotional and powerful. These veterans served their country with honor and distinction, while their families were incarcerated behind barbed wire. We thank Mr. Sato for sharing his work at Manzanar.” 

Sato launched his “Go For Broke Spirit” project in 2000 and over the years has taken nearly 200 portraits of the veterans.

“People could equate these men, in the twilight of their lives, to the vets who fought in World War II,” he observed.

He collaborated with oral historian Robert Horsting to publish two coffee table books, “The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage” and “The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Legacy,”available for purchase from Manzanar’s nonprofit partner Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association (ESIA). The Visitor Center bookstore is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (closed Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday).

The books also are available on ESIA’s website: https://sierraforever.org/

On Feb. 18, at 2 p.m., ESIA will host Manzanar’s Day of Remembrance event featuring Sato and World War II veteran Yoshio “Yosh” Nakamura, who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and length of service.

In a 2016 interview, Nakamura reflected, “They were highly motivated and disciplined, and so they had a mission more than just taking care of the enemy . . . We were declared disloyal or enemy aliens . . . to prove our loyalty . . . we were just as good Americans as any others. That was an important thing.”

Email Gena@ESIAonline.org to receive a Zoom link for this special program.

Manzanar National Historic Site is located at 5001 Highway 395, six miles south of Independence and nine miles north of Lone Pine, California. Learn more on the website at: https://www.nps.gov/manz

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