Rafu Staff Report
WESTMINSTER — Memorial Day was observed with services held Monday at Westminster Memorial Park, hosted by Kazuo Masuda Memorial VFW Post 3670 and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In addition to the playing of “Taps” and a 21-gun salute, the event featured floral tributes and acknowledgement of VFW members who passed away during the past year.
Ken Inouye briefly spoke about the 80th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 and the signing of HR 442, the redress bill, by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.
The program was headlined by keynote speaker Wayne Osako, co-chair of the Stamp Our Story campaign that led the drive for a U.S. postage stamp honoring Japanese Americans who served in World War II.
The Go For Broke stamp, issued last June, pays tribute to the approximately 33,000 Japanese Americans who served in the military during World War II, many enlisting as their families were incarcerated in desolate concentration camps.
Osako spoke of the motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team – “Go For Broke”— that they would risk everything, and give their all.
“We are on hallowed ground beside the grave of Staff Sgt. Kazuo Masuda, who embodied this spirit, or seishin in Japanese. For heart, we say kokoro,” Osako said, noting the contributions of late Stamp Our Story co-chair Fusa Takahashi, whose husband, Kazuo Takahashi, served with the Military Intelligence Service.
“Fusa said of her husband, and of all the Nisei soldiers of World War II, ‘It’s what our Issei parents taught us that made these soldiers give their best. Always be proud of your heritage.’”
The Stamp Our Story campaign was spearheaded by Takahashi along with Chiz Ohira and Aiko Ogata King, who passed away last week.
“Fusa and Aiko saw a Nisei soldiers exhibit in 2005, and they were inspired to think of new ways to help share and preserve this story,” Osako recalled. “They thought, ‘How about a postage stamp?’ and loved the idea.
“Their hope was to reach young people and the general public — stamps are used by everyone. New people might come across a stamp and learn about our Nisei soldiers. Stamps tell a story in a concise, visual form.”
Osako also spoke of the heroism of Masuda, an Orange County native who was killed in action on Aug. 27, 1944.
“Before he died, in a letter to his family who were confined at Jerome, he wrote, ‘I and the rest of the combat team know what we are fighting for. It is for us, our future in America.’ Kazuo would have a profound impact on that future,” Osako explained.
Photos by MICHAEL KOMAI/Rafu Shimpo