Congressman urges Postmaster General to release stamp commemorating patriotism of Japanese Americans during WWII

Taki sends letter to the Postmaster General and the Citizens Stamp Advisory Council

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HONOLULU – To mark the beginning of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Congressman Mark Takai sent a letter to the Postmaster General and the Citizens Stamp Advisory Council urging them to create a commemorative stamp to honor the patriotism of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“It is an honor to celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, which acknowledges the rich heritage of our community, and how it has enhanced and contributed to our nation. We must take this month to reflect upon the people and communities that have worked to change the status quo and advance Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), and to recommit ourselves to creating a fairer and just society,” Takai said. “2017 will mark 75 years since the start of World War II, which led to the incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry, but also the beginning of the formation of the decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service. In honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month and the patriotism of Japanese Americans during this time, we should honor these brave Americans with a timeless stamp,” Takai added.

Over 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated across the United States during World War II. Further, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion remain the most decorated units for the size and length of service and they managed to fight for the United States, despite their families being incarcerated across the mainland United States.

“During World War II, at the height of the anti-Japanese hysteria that led to the wrongful incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans, 30,000 second-generation Japanese Americans made the choice to join our military and fight for our freedoms – even as those freedoms were denied to their own family members. Their courage and patriotism deserves to be honored, just as they honored us with their service. This month is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which is a fitting time to celebrate the contributions of these Japanese Americans who represent the best of what it means to be American. Immortalizing their service on a stamp will be an important reminder for future generations that what makes us American is not our race, but our values,” said Representative Judy Chu.

Representatives Mark Takai and Judy Chu co-led this letter along with Senators Mazie Hirono, Brian Schatz and Ron Wyden as well as Representatives Michael M. Honda, Doris Matsui, Mark Takano, Anna G. Eshoo, Tulsi Gabbard, Barbara Lee, Raul M. Grijalva, Chris Van Hollen, Jackie Speier, Ted Lieu, Mark DeSaulnier, Zoe Lofgren, Julia Brownley, Eric Swalwell, Nydia Velazquez, Gregory W. Meeks, Denny Heck, Alan Lowenthal, Grace F. Napolitano, Sam Farr, Loretta Sanchez, Derek Kilmer, Jim McDermott, Scott Peters, Adam Smith, Dina Titus, Adam B. Schiff, Karen Bass and Susan A. Davis.

The letter can be read below:

Dear Postmaster General Megan Brennan,

We strongly urge you to issue a United States commemorative postage stamp that would preserve the inspiring story of the Japanese Americans who served in the US Army during World War II.

Next year, 2017, marks 75 years since the start of the incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry during the war, and 75 years since the Nisei, second generation Japanese Americans, responded by standing tall for America in the face of adversity both at home and abroad.

During World War II, Japanese Americans in the continental United States were forcibly removed from their homes on the Pacific Coast and sent to incarceration camps. In return, over 30,000 majority Nisei volunteered to serve in the United States military. The vast majority were in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service. These military units were highly decorated and the combined 100th/442nd remains the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in our nation’s history. These men fought for all of our freedoms while their families sat in incarceration camps across the mainland United States. Over 800 died in service to our nation during the war.

Following the war, many of these American veterans and internees contributed significantly to public life. Senator Daniel Inouye, Governor George Ariyoshi, and Congressman Spark Matsunaga were all Japanese American World War II veterans. Secretary Norman Mineta was one of the approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated during this time. Thousands of other former internees became educators, lawyers, and doctors contributing to multiple facets of the American sphere.

These Japanese American families were targeted for incarceration solely because of their ethnicity. We must honor these brave Americans with a stamp that will continue to remind us of their courage, loyalty and undying patriotism to the United States. This stamp will also serve as a constant reminder that civil liberties belong to us all – not just a select few.