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. Continue reading →
President Obama today signed legislation at a White House ceremony to collectively award the soldiers of the 100th battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team the Congressional Gold Medal. Individual members had been awarded Medals of Honor but as a group, this is the first time the bravery of the mostly Japanese American troops of the 100th/442nd has been acknowledged with such an honor.
Outside of Japanese American and Asian American circles, and probably military history buffs, I bet not many people know of these soldiers. The 100th/442nd, nicknamed the “Go for Broke” regiment, is the most highly decorated military unit for its size and length of service in the history of the United States.
The interview is scheduled for Wednesday, February 24 at 6 pm PT (7 pm MT, 9 pm ET), and like our other talks, it’s a free call held over a conference line and webcast, so you can listen via phone (long distance charges may apply) or online (free). Just register for the call, and you can also submit questions both before and during the interview on the webcast page, and we’ll pass them along to Adam.
This is a good time to revisit Adam’s excellent biography of Ralph Carr, which was published in 2008. The paperback edition has just been released, and Day of Remembrance is coming up on February 19.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the Japanese American National Museum‘s national conference was held in Denver. Sorting through the many bits of video I took over the conference, which ran July 3-6, my favorite parts were the tribute to JA veterans on the Fourth of July, and the July 6 bus tour to Amache, the internment camp in southeast Colorado.
The conference brought a bevy of famous and not-so famous speakers and panelists (I moderated a panel on Hapas, mixed-race Americans who are the future of the JA community) to Denver’s nice new Hyatt right by the nice new Convention Center. The famous included the likes of actor George Takei, a superstar in the JA pantheon; Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawai’i), a Medal of Honor World War II veteran of the all-JA 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team; Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), who as a baby was interned at Amache with his family; former Congressman and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta; JA leaders and activists such as John Tateishi and Dale Minami; authors including mystery novelist Naomi Hirahara; Cynthia Kadohata, who writes books for pre-teens; and Uma Krishnaswami, who writes multicultural children’s books from a South Asian perspective.
The conference, which had the awkward and ungainly title but righteous theme of “Whose America? Who’s American?,” also brought more than 800 attendees and volunteers for the four-day span, meeting and greeting and learning about the history, present and future of not only Japanese Americans but also of Americans in general. One of the noteworthy speakers was Anan Ameri, the director of the Arab American National Museum, who spoke at a Plenary Session alongside JA scholars about internment, civil rights and the question of American identity posed in the conference title. Continue reading →
Erin and I are helping out the conference, and one of Erin’s main projects has been contacting and inviting Colorado Japanese American veterans to the conference’s Welcome Ceremony on July 4, during which the vets will be honored for their service. Many of them are elderly veterans of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, who fought in Europe during WWII even though many of them had family members living behind barbed wire in U.S. concentration camps.
These men, as well as their lesser-known Pacific campaign counterparts, the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) who fought in the Pacific, for the country that imprisoned them at the start of the war just to prove their patriotism, remain today the most highly-decorated combat unit for its size and length of service in U.S. military history. In one celebrated battle, the men of the 442nd, whose motto was “Go for Broke!,” suffered over 800 casualties to save 211 men of a Texas “Lost Battalion” in the Vosges mountains of France towards the end of the war.
It should be a moving tribute to these men, and the veterans will include both Hawai’i Sen. Daniel Inouye, who lost an arm as a member of the 442nd, and former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, who served in the Army during the 1950s.
They’ll join over two dozen Colorado veterans as well as JA veterans from all over the country who are attending the conference. Continue reading →