WASHINGTON – As part of a Veterans Day celebration in Washington, D.C., National Veterans Network (NVN) Executive Director Christine Sato-Yamazaki announced two national programs with the National Museum of the U.S. Army and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.
The two programs are focused on educating and sharing the experiences of 33,000 Japanese Americans who fought in the service of the U.S. to demonstrate their loyalty and patriotism in World War II, and the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forcibly relocated into 10 War Relocation Authority (WRA) incarceration camps.
“NVN’s mission is critical in today’s environment to continue to educate the public of the Japanese American history to ensure its stories and lessons are not forgotten,” said Sato-Yamazaki. “We are grateful to continue our collaboration with the National Army Museum and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center with these two national programs as they will enable the NVN to continue our mission and share these important stories.”
Together, the National Army Museum, the Army Historical Foundation, and the National Veterans Network are working on a ten-city traveling exhibition to educate the public about the extraordinary heroism of Nisei soldiers who enlisted for military service during World War II from the islands of Hawaii to the mainland U.S., where 4,000 volunteered from WRA concentration camps.
The traveling exhibition, “The Nisei Soldier Experience: Two-Front War,” will highlight the service from the perspective of the men and women who fought for democracy overseas, while they simultaneously fought a war against prejudice at home.
The National Army Museum’s special exhibit will build out from its current 800 square feet to 1,200 square feet and will expand to approximately 35 significant historical objects, 50-75 images and three audio-visual kiosks for visitors to access nine individual soldier stories and an interactive map of the European and Pacific campaigns composed of 16 videos.
Once “The Nisei Soldier Experience” closes in 2025, the traveling exhibit will travel to 10 cities across the country starting in 2026 for five years. It is scheduled to be hosted in the following states: California (Los Angeles and San Francisco), Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Texas, and Wyoming.
In 2023, the NVN in partnership with Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) will host a three-day Teacher Training Institute at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., which will provide professional development, historical training, and access to curricula and educational resources for elementary and middle school teachers. The training covers the history of the Japanese American WWII soldier experience to the mass incaceration.
The training will be based on the two curriculums, “What Was Life Like in the Camp?” lessons and activities for elementary schools and “What Would You Do?” for middle school, both developed by NVN and APAC in collaboration with classroom teachers. The lessons are based on stories of real-life Nisei soldiers including 16-year-old Stanley Hayami (elementary), Terry Nakanishi, who served in the Women’s Army Corps, Daniel Inouye, who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat team, and Fred Korematsu, who defied Executive Order 9066, which forced the involuntary incarceration relocation of Japanese Americans.
Educators from Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. will be selected through a nomination process to participate in the Teacher Training Institute.
The Teacher Training Institute is partially funded by the Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS) through the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) grant program.
NVN is currently seeking artifacts from families of Nisei soldiers who volunteered out of the WRA camps for the traveling exhibition, teachers interested in the participating in the Teacher Training Institute and sponsors for both programs. For more information, visit www.nationalveteransnetwork.com.
NVN’s mission is to educate current and future generations about the extraordinary legacy of American WWII soldiers of Japanese ancestry in order to promote equality and justice.
In 2010, the organization launched a national campaign to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th, 442nd and MIS units, and worked with Congress and the U.S. Mint to design the medal.
In 2012, the organization partnered with the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service for a seven-city tour to promote recognition of the Nisei Soldier Congressional Gold Medal.
In 2016, along with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, NVN launched an online digital exhibition to share the story of Japanese American soldiers of WWII (http://cgm.smithsonianapa.org).
From 2017-2020, NVN worked with the National Museum of the U.S. Army to gather artifacts from Japanese American WWII soldiers and their families, which resulted in a special exhibit.
In 2020, NVN collaborated with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center to develop elementary and middle school curriculum, lessons, and activities.
Visit www.nationalveteransnetwork.com and follow the NVN on Facebook (NationalVeteransNetwork), Twitter (@NtlVetNetwork) or Instagram (nationalveteransnetwork).
The Army Historical Foundation establishes, assists, and promotes programs and projects that preserve the history of the American soldier and promote public understanding of and appreciation for the contributions by all components of the U.S. Army and its members. The foundation serves as the Army’s official fundraising entity for the Capital Campaign for the National Museum of the United States Army.
The award-winning, LEED-certified museum opened on Nov. 11, 2020, at Fort Belvoir, Va., and will honor the service and sacrifice of all American soldiers who have served since the Army’s inception in 1775. For more information on the foundation and the National Museum of the United States Army, visit www.armyhistory.org.
The National Museum of the United States Army provides the only comprehensive portrayal of Army history and traditions through the eyes of the American soldier. By preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting invaluable artifacts, the museum creates learning opportunities for all visitors and bonds the American people to their oldest military service.
The U.S. Army owns and operates the museum. The Army Historical Foundation continues its fundraising role in support of the museum and manages all retail, catering and special events. For more information on the museum, visit www.theNMUSA.org.
Founded in 1997, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center promotes the appreciation, inclusion, and understanding of Asian Pacific American history, art, and culture through exhibitions, collections, research, and public programs. The center works in partnership with museums, galleries, and centers throughout the Smithsonian, across the country, and around the world. For more information, visit https://smithsonianapa.org.