Ralph Carr, the man who served as governor of Colorado at the start of World War II, had been largely forgotten for decades. But thanks to an effort by the Asian Pacific Bar Association (APABA) and a biography by journalist Adam Schrager, Carr’s making a comeback in Colorado, and his legacy is finally getting its due, with a fine biography, a stretch of Highway 285 named in his honor, and now, a memorial to Carr’s legacy at Kenosha Pass.
On December 12, representatives of Denver’s Japanese American community, APABA, and CDOT assembled at a scenic overlook just a few hundred feet west of the Kenosha Pass summit on Highway 285 to dedicate the memorial. (Here’s a nice report from the Canyon Courier about the dedication.)
It’s a massive stone tribute engraved with a message that explains the significance of Ralph Carr to Colorado.
A rising star in the Republican Party during the 1930s, Carr was mentioned as a future presidential candidate when he famously became the only Western governor in the months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor to oppose first the harassment, and then the internment of Japanese Americans.
Most people living in Denver today probably don’t know the name Minoru Yasui. But the Japanese American community leader has left a legacy that still impacts the city.
I attended the annual Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Awards luncheon on Dec. 1 and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the event had sold out all its 440 tickets. It’s a celebration held every December to honor the monthly recipients of the MYCVA awards, which are given to 11 people who work tirelessly to help the community as volunteers in non-profits or community organizations. Each recipient gets to choose their favorite charity to donate their $2000 award to, so there’s a powerful, positive ripple effect of the Min Yasui recognition.
Over the years, my wife Erin and I have known a handful of the recipients from Denver’s Asian community, and this year, two Japanese Americans were recipients: Mike Shibata, who’s volunteered with the Japanese American Community Graduation Program, which hands out a whole bunch of scholarships to deserving JA high schoolers (I was the recipient of one scholarship in the mid’70s when I graduated from Alameda High School); and Kimiko Side, who helped establish the Denver Sister Cities relationship with Takayama in Japan (it’s the oldest sister city partnership in Japan).
The other MYCVA recipients for 2010 are: