Thursday, November 17, 2016

When You Discriminate, You May Not See an American Hero


The greatest example of the dysfunctionality of discrimination was seen in how Japanese-Americans were treated during the Second World War. Earl Warren, Governor of California, sent the Japanese in California to prison camps in deserted pockets of the Western US. At first the Hawaiians (Hawaii was not yet a state) talked about putting Hawaiians of Japanese ancestry into such camps.

Instead they allowed men of Japanese ancestry to form the 442nd regimental combat team (also called the 442 infantry Regiment).. These men went to Europe with a force close to 4000 men. In battle after battle they showed themselves to be the bravest group of American soldiers in history.

Because of the horrific battle conditions in which they fought,  the original 4000 had to be replaced 2.5 times. The members of that unit eventually  involved 14,000 men, who earned a total of 9486 purple hearts.

The unit had eight presidential citations (with five of them earned in one month). This group, which was known as the Nisei Regiment, had among them 21 recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, our nation's highest decoration.

Their bravery is hard to believe. I remember seeing Sen. Daniel  Inouye from Hawaii who only had half an arm because of his service in this Regiment. As I watched the Watergate hearings, I listened  to how Nixon's men tried to get support for their embattled chief. One of the conspirators said of the pronunciation  of Sen. Inouye  name, "ain't no way" he would ever be compromised.

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