The NVN strives to educate current and future generations about the extraordinary legacy of American WWII soldiers of Japanese Ancestry, advocating for equality and justice. Their stories of uncommon valor and selfless service, despite prejudice and racism, is a story of equality and justice.
Given the racial climate of 2021, including #StopAsianHate, it has never been timelier to share the inspirational stories of those who rose above fear and prejudice to demonstrate their loyalty to the United States of America.
What is your American story?
The National Veteran’s Network invites you to share your #IAmAmerican story. Hold one of the NVN #IAmAmerican hashtag signs designed by fifth generation Japanese American Kristen Wada, and share your #IAmAmerican story on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with us today. Share a personal video, quote, paragraph or story, all testimonials are welcomed.
Feel free to answer any of the following prompts:
• I am American because…
• What does being an American mean to you?
• Why are you proud to be an American?
• What fear and prejudice do you feel you need to overcome?
To support the campaign, tag @nationalveteransnetwork on Instagram, @NtlVetNetwork on Twitter, or @nationalveteransnetwork on Facebook. Alternatively, you can submit your photo or video to NVN at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share your #IamAmerican story with us today.
Hear Some of These American Stories
ALANA NAKAMOTO, 7th Grade Student
Here in Hawai’i, so many of the people are Asian, so luckily, I do not see much- if any prejudice towards our race. I have never had a doubt in my mind that I am an American. To me, race doesn’t matter, you can be any race, love our country, contribute to our country, and THAT is what makes you AMERICAN. My great grandpa, along with so many others, fought in WWII as a Nisei Soldier. They had so much going against them, even people who hated them because of their race, but they fought for our country and were willing to die for it, because they were American. I am proud to be an American that happens to be of Asian descent. #IAmAmerican.
SIEGMORE OYAMA, 442nd Veteran
The story of Sigenore (Siggie) Oyama who turned 99 years old in September. In 1944, I volunteered in the army and joined the 442nd in Europe. As a South Texas farmer, I chose to fight for my country, my family’s country. My father in 1908 crossed the Pacific to come to America. I wanted to protect all that we held dear, including our small community that rallied around the Japanese American families in South Texas after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
To me, #IAmAmerican means being proud of my country and my grandfather who is a Vietnam Veteran. I’m proud of our troops and grateful for their service. I’m proud to be a citizen of a country where my freedom and rights are protected, and where I’m encouraged to raise my voice and vote for the change I want to see.
I was bullied and called names when WWII anniversary of Pearl Harbor in elementary school in South Texas. I hated school in the fall of the year with the start of WWII combat movies. I had the face of the enemy. Fear and ignorance was the beginning of discrimination. I could not wait for show n tell to bring my Dad’s 442nd Army album to school to prove he fought in the US Army as an American citizen and I was an American citizen too! That America was my home not Japan.
FRANK MASUOKA, MIS
America has always been the land of freedom and opportunity. My parents immigrated to the US in 1907. There were hard times, but the American friends my parents had made helped them get thought these times. When WWII began, my parents supported by joining the US Army. In fact, all four sons served in the Army. Our brother Peter died in November 1944, while going to save the Texas Lost Battalion. This all happened while by parents were interned in Camp Amache, Colorado. I learned to be proud to have served. Having been uprooted from their home in Sebastopol, CA, being put in an internment camp and losing a son in WWII, they still had faith in America. I learned from my parents to have pride and respect for my country, America.
I Am An American.
MAS HONGO, MIS
I am proud to have served America during WWII. Having served in the US Military Intelligence Service in post-war Japan, I was given the opportunity to help Japan get back on its feet. I felt proud of my service, even after being locked up in an American concentration camp, earlier during WWII. This country is the only one in this world that can afford me the ability to do freely without restriction what I want to do. I was able to pursue my dream of an orchid business in Hawaii, then coming to the mainland doing wholesale in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, traveling throughout the nation selling products from Hawaii.
JOSEPH KURATA, MIS
I am proud and happy to be an American. As a Nisei soldier of WWII, we, Japanese American Nisei Soldiers upheld the “Go For Broke” motto on the battlefields in Europe and in Asia. The bravery and resultant heavy casualties was proof of our loyalty. Our role as Japanese American soldier linguists in the Pacific theater was critical to winning the war. We were involved as language interpreters, translators of captured Japanese documents and even intercepted Japanese radio transmissions. The Japanese military did not know of our presence with the Allied Forces. We were America’s secret weapon. The recognition received has benefited all, and especially Americans of Japanese ancestry. As an American, I am proud of the opportunity to reach my goals in retirement.
TOKE YOSHIHASHI, 100th Infantry Battalion Veteran
My brother and I, both California natives, were drafted into the Army in 1944 while incarcerated with our family in the U.S. Government camp in Gila River, Arizona. We joined the 100th Infantry Battalion, which fought in France and Italy and is known as the “Purple Heart Battalion.” Even though we had lost our home, our jobs and our freedom, we fought so our loyalty to the U.S. would never be questioned again. Today, at 93, I support Go For Broke National Education Center. #IamAmerican.
MARY TAKAKI, Daughter of Kenichi Takaki, MIS
Kenichi John Takaki was a father, husband, brother, son and friend. He was born in San Francisco, California in 1925, the eldest of eight siblings. By Executive Order 9066 he and his family were removed from their home to live in an internment camp in Topaz, Utah. While there, he graduated from high school. When he turned 18 years old, Kenichi enlisted in the Army. His exposure to and ease for which he learned the Japanese language prompted the Army to send him to the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, MN. After successfully completing the intensive training program, he was assigned to the Pacific Theater in the Philippines. While stationed there he participated as interpreter and translator during the War crime trials of two Generals of the Imperial Japanese Army. As a result of his stellar interpretive skills, the Generals were found guilty of their participation of the atrocities committed during World War II. Kenichi was discharged in 1947. He was decorated with the Good Conduct Medal, Army Occupation Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon, World War II Victory Medal and the Philippine Independence Ribbon. I am an American and proud to be a descendant of the brave Japanese American men and women who served our country with such valor.
District Of Columbia
As a family physician, I have the privilege to serve communities from diverse backgrounds and generations and it makes me proud that #IAmAmerican
Being Japanese American means living the life that generations before me sought to achieve not only for themselves but for future generations. The unjust treatment and loss of dignity my grandparents faced during internment has been a deeply personal reminder of the uncivil and irrational actions that can be inflicted upon any people out of fear. The social barriers and prejudice my grandparents overcame has provided future generations, like my own, opportunities that have allowed us to continue to challenge discrimination and stereotypes as well as pursue our goals and dreams without the threat of losing our rights. I am proud of my cultural heritage; I let my minority status empower me not hinder me, I am proud to contribute to the diversity that is the very foundation of this nation; proud to be a bridge between my heritage and my nationality, I am grateful and humbled by the obstacles the Nisei and Sansei have overcome so I can live a life of opportunity, because it is my right to be who I am and #IamAmerican.
Heart Mountain Interpretive Center
In our Nisei veterans exhibit at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, I’m reminded almost daily of the more than 800 from Heart Mountain who served during World War II. I am in awe of their patriotism and bravery in service of a nation that had subjected 120,000 Japanese Americans to a great injustice. They are an inspiring reminder that it is not enough to say we believe in America’s core foundational values of equality, diversity and liberty; we must also put them in motion. We must live these values through our actions (large and small) on a daily basis.
ENOCH KANAYA, 442nd RCT
I served with Company F, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. It’s fortunate to be with such a good group and having served our country together.
JAMES ‘KOLLY’ TAKAKI, 3606 Ordnance, 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Army
As a WWII veteran who served during the occupation following Japan’s WWII surrender.although not a MIS’er, I served as an interpreter, processing Japaneses prisoners of war on the Island of Okinawa. I was especially proud to be a Japanese American soldier, representing the United States of America, which encouraged us to treat its prisoners of war with dignity and humanity.
Chicago Nisei Post #1183 American Legion
supports the #IAmAmerican campaign
LT. COL MICHAEL YAGUCHI, Air Force Veteran
TERRY SHIMA, 442nd RCT Veteran
Over 31,000 Nisei served in the US Army during WW II to prove their loyalty. When the war ended the 442nd Combat Team was declared the most highly decorated unit for its size and period of combat, the stigma of disloyalty was removed and Nisei were accepted in America’s mainstream. Nisei contributed to the climate for post WW II reforms thus leveling the playing field for all minorities to compete for any job and rank. Nisei and other minorities serving in high positions in politics, government, military, business, academia and other disciplines have contributed to the Greatness of America. Future generations of Japanese Americans are challenged to set the bar at a higher level.
District Of Columbia
COLONEL AL YAZAWA, Iraq Veteran
Because of the courage, patriotism and integrity of those who rose to the challenge before me, I am able to stand on their shoulders and become the American that I am today. Because of their sacrifice, in a battle against enemies both foreign and domestic — a fight against prejudice at home and a war against tyranny overseas, all Asian-Americans like myself have been able to reap the benefits of full citizenship that this country, our Nation, has had to offer. And because of this and more, I have chosen to do my part to serve my Country and strengthen her through service in our Army. #IAmAmerican #GoForBroke