June 29, 2008Japanese American National Museum is sponsoring a conference in Denver over the Fourth of July weekend, called "Whose America? Who's American? Diversity, Civil Liberties, and Social Justice." 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.