Remnants of damage from a piece of burned fabric thrown at the 442nd RCT insignia at the Go For Broke Monument in Little Tokyo on May 19. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)


An individual last Thursday lit a shirt on fire and threw it at the Go For Broke Monument in Little Tokyo, causing damage to the insignia of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

The shoulder sleeve insignia for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team features a white torch of liberty, symbolizing light and guidance, upon a blue background. Red and white borders complete a full set of red, white, and blue national colors.

Go For Broke National Education Center was alerted by security from the adjacent Japanese American National Museum and Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in the early afternoon of May 19 that there was smoke coming from the monument. Security from MOCA was able to douse the fire.

It is believed that the same person, described as an Asian male in his 30s, had tried to light other fires in the plaza, including in a bin at MOCA and near JANM’s Democracy Center for the Preservation of Democracy. Police were notified and a report was taken.

Go For Broke staff were able to scrub off most of the damage to the insignia. A couple of weeks earlier, a storage container in the walkway also was tagged with graffiti and there was damage to one of the lights and the informational kiosk.

“I am saddened to see the recent random acts of vandalism to the Go For Broke Monument, which symbolizes the character and valor of the Japanese American soldiers of World War II,” said GFBNEC President and CEO Dr. Mitch Maki. “It is their courage and sacrifice that gives us the freedoms we have today, and why we strive to ensure that their story remains an important American story.

“We are grateful for the immediate response from the MOCA and JANM security staff and for their assistance in protecting the monument as best as possible.”

Last December, a reckless driver led police on a chase in front of JANM and MOCA, causing damage to a pillar, railing and trees at the Go For Broke Monument.

Built in 1999, the Go For Broke Monument is inscribed with the names of more than 16,000 Japanese Americans who served during World War II from segregated units: the 100th Infantry Division, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion, and 232nd Combat Engineer Company; their officers; and Nisei women who served in the U.S. military.

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  1. It saddens me to hear of such a horrible thing to occur to the most valuable memories of those veterans who fought for liberty and freedom so we could all enjoy our lives today. Hope somehow the persons responsible for this vandalism are caught and punished.