RAFU STAFF REPORT
The Japanese American 2022 Joint Memorial Service was held May 28 outside the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo.
The JACCC is adjacent to the Japanese American War Memorial Court, which honors those who gave their lives in America’s conflicts — the Spanish American War, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the invasion of Grenada and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The in-person event was sponsored by the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance, JACCC, Go For Broke National Education Center, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo Service Center, and Keiro. David Miyoshi and Kristyn Hayashi of the VMCA were co-chairs and Ken Hayashi served as emcee.
The Redondo Union High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC carried out the posting and retiring of colors as well as rifle volleys. Buglers from that group played “Assembly” and “Taps.” Aimee Machida of the Grateful Crane Ensemble was unable to attend, so a recording of her singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” was used.
Rev. Ki Choi of Centenary United Methodist Church gave the invocation, Brian Kida, patrol leader of Koyasan Temple’s Boy Scout Troop 379, led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Bishop Noriaki Ito of Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple gave the benediction.
JACCC CEO Patricia Wyatt delivered greetings and Helen Ota, a member of the Grateful Crane Ensemble and a VMCA board member, gave the Memorial Day address.
A wreath was placed jointly by Wyatt for JACCC; Alhambra Mayor Jeffrey Koji Maloney, GFBNEC; Erich Nakano, LTSC; Ann Burroughs, JANM; Michelle Hirano, Keiro; and Kaitlin Hara, VMCA.
“Every year, when the Memorial Day weekend comes, I take a moment to express my gratitude to those who gave their lives for our country,” said Ota. “And for the past several years during the Memorial Day weekend, I’ve had the chance to spend time here at the Japanese American National War Memorial Court. Every year I’m here, I look at the names of the soldiers on the wall with respect and appreciation. I thank them for their courage and dedication and for giving for our country and more.
“The memorial court behind me is here so that we do not forget the Japanese American soldiers who have fallen, but I also encourage all of us to remember the soldiers still living – the Japanese American veterans who are here with us today. The veterans who play an important role in preserving the legacy of the Japanese American soldiers from all wars …
“Even though I may not have had a familial connection to a veteran or a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice, I am connected to their story. It is through the honor and privilege I have had for the past 20-plus years working with the veterans – my heroes, our heroes — that I stand here before all of you with humbleness, to share what this day means to me today.
“It is also why I dedicate time to the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance to ensure the story of the Japanese American soldiers is not forgotten, and that the Japanese American National War Memorial Court continues to serve as a reminder of the brave soldiers who gave their lives for their country.”
The first floral tribute was presented by Yoko and Paul Nakamura, whose son Paul lost his life in Iraq in 2003, followed by Lynnie Tabata for spouses and families of deceased veterans, Linda Machida Grundy for World War II veterans, Robert M. Wada for Korean War veterans, George Tanaka for Vietnam veterans, LTC Tim Yoshinaga for Afghanistan and Iraq, and VMCA board member Chris Segawa for the USS Maine and Grenada.
Organizational representatives presenting floral tributes were: Steve Moriyama, VFW 4th District, Gardena Post 1961; James Nakamura, VFW Kazuo Masuda Post 3670; Keith Kawamoto, American Legion Sadao Munemori Post 321 and 100th/442nd Veterans Association; 1st Sgt. Steve Mick, USMC (retired), Redondo Union High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC; Matthew Estrada, JACCC; Grant Sunoo, LTSC; Les Higa, VMCA; Consul General Akira Muto, Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles; Jerry Iseda of Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, Adopt a Vietnam War KIA Program; Cory Hayashi, Nisei Week Foundation.
Maloney, who is board secretary of GFBNEC, gave closing remarks. Participants stayed for lunch, which was provided by Sake Dojo.
Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo