In keeping with the traditions of the 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans organization (Club 100), we spent Friday, September 22, 2023 preparing anthuriums and Saturday, September 23, 2023 decorating graves of the 100th Infantry Battalion men, in preparation for the 18th Annual "Nisei Soldiers Memorial Service."
This annual memorial service was first held by Club 100 on September 29, 1946 to remember the 100th’s killed in action (KIA), for whom a formal memorial service or ritual could not be held in the heat of battle. The service continues to be held annually, on the Sunday in September closest to September 29 - the day in 1943 when Sgt. Shigeo "Joe" Takata of the 100th Infantry Battalion became the first Japanese American soldier in an AJA (American of Japanese ancestry) "Nisei" unit, to be killed in action in World War II. Since 2006, it has been held as a joint memorial service to honor the men of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service, and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion in World War II.
Thank you to everyone who volunteered yesterday to prepare the anthuriums bunches, and this morning to decorate over 1,000 graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific - Punchbowl cemetery. It was incredibly heartwarming to see the groups of dedicated volunteers from our greater community dispersed throughout the entire crater, hands filled with flowers and flags, searching for our veterans in order to honor them 80 years since the passing of Joe Takata.
Thank you also to our volunteers who decorated over 100 graves at the Hawai‘i State Veterans Cemetery and Hawaiian Memorial Park in Kāneʻohe, and over 60 graves at Mililani Memorial Park, Diamond Head Memorial Park, Nuʻuanu Memorial Park, Honolulu Memorial Park, Oʻahu Cemetery, City Memorial Park, Honpa Hongwanji Hawaiʻi Betsuin, and other temples on Oʻahu.
We are filled with gratitude that our annual event has the support of so many wonderful volunteers, honoring our veterans and carrying on their stories and legacy along with us. We are also grateful that the Nisei Veterans Legacy has adopted this joint memorial service for all of the World War II Nisei Soldiers, thus keeping our tradition alive.
These words from Major Mitsuyoshi "Mits" Fukuda from his 1982 Memorial Address still echo in our hearts today:
"Some of us can stand up and say that we have kept our word and that we looked after the families of the members who died. Some of us can say that we put flowers on their graves of those buddies on every Memorial Day and visited the families of our buddies on these occasions. Some of us will have to confess that we do not know what happened to their mothers and fathers, and wives and children because we failed to keep in touch with them. And that in time of need we were not there to lend a helping hand to their family members. Some of us were too busy with our own lives, our own education and the education of our children, and getting ahead in our jobs. But there is time. There are good many years ahead of us to do the things we promised our buddies that we will do for them. Let’s get on with the job. Let us make a vow once again that we will take care of our buddies and their loved ones."
It is heartwarming to see us all continuing to do our part to remember the men who gave their lives, and honor those who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service, and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion in World War II, to the best of our abilities this weekend.