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First sign of war
Mom recalls seeing one of the first planes fly over their house on Oahu. She said it was odd that it was flying so low and she clearly saw the pilots' face and he looked directly at her as he flew overhead. He wore a leather flight cap and goggles and the plane displayed it's distinctive "Red Sun" insignia on it's side.
At that moment, she had no idea that she was one of the first eyewitnesses to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The Pledge of Allegiance
I had a chance to spend some time with my mom recently. Her parents were first generation immigrants to Hawaii from Okinawa or Issei, my parents were Nisei, I am Sansei - third generation. Mom regularly goes to the weekly get-together at the Japanese Senior Citizens Center. Since I am now "of age", I decided to join her and check out what this getting old stuff is all about.
She was so proud to introduce me to each one of her friends, over and over again. These men and women ranged in age from the 60's to the early 100's! It took awhile for us to make our way to the hall - there was congestion in the walkway because of all the walkers or canes and wheelchairs.
I ponder over what they have seen over their life's journey - before TV's, cell phones, fax machines, and computers.
Here they were now - in the sunset years of their lives. Eyes are dim, most wearing hearing aids, bent over with old age and slow in their movements. Many had worked in the pineapple or sugar plantation fields performing back breaking manual work. Men did the hard labor and the women worked in the fields too - often working while carrying their newborn babies on their backs. There were many men that also served in the military during the war - decorated for their valor. Women had to care for their families alone while their husbands were away at war.
The agenda started with a short workout...while it wasn't zumba, I had trouble following along to this unfamiliar routine. Next, everyone stood and proudly recited the Pledge of Allegiance. In their frail voices, they sang God Bless America, some struggling to keep standing. It was in this moment that I was so profoundly touched, and tears started to stream down my face. They still pledged their allegiance to this country even though during the war they were under suspicion for being spies for the Japanese government.
I've recited the Pledge of Allegiance thousands of times over the years, and was truly touched by this demonstration of the real meaning of freedom and commitment - just like when our founding fathers had written these mighty words. Sadly, generations since have taken this Pledge of Allegiance for granted or with disdain.
I was humbled to be in the company of these brave and honorable Americans!
Go for Broke!
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, young Japanese men from Hawaii volunteered to prove their loyalty to the United States. Astonishingly, over 10,000 men, (even some from internment camps) served in the 442nd Infantry Regiment, which included the 100th Infantry Battalion. These brave men were part of the most decorated unit in American history. Go for Broke was their motto, which in Hawaii, means go all the way or give it all you've got.
No American citizen of Japanese ancestry from Hawaii was ever found to have been spies for Japan.