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Legacy2Action “For Continuing Service”

On Sunday, April 28, 2024, the 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans (100th IBV) Clubhouse was excited to hear from students on how they can help Hawaiʻi become a better place, applying the values of success and integrity of the men of the 100th. We call this initiative, Legacy2Action. We challenge students to identify a problem facing Hawaiʻi, and to create a solution using the values of the 100th Infantry Battalion. 


Students learned about the values of the 100th Infantry Battalion earlier in the school year, from 100th IBV - Club 100 mentors. The students shared about a problem they saw in our community, how they gained inspiration from the values and lessons of the 100th Infantry Battalion men, and presented their creative solutions to address the issue. It was so heartwarming to hear students from all over Oʻahu being passionate about helping Hawaiʻi, and fully embracing how the 100th’s values helped to make their solution successful and sustaining. 


Following their presentations, students went to their booths to meet with 100th IBV members, family and friends of our 100th Infantry Battalion men, and supportive members of our community. They answered questions about their project, and received insightful feedback from attendees, including leaders in our community from all fields. 

We are so proud of all of these students for their participation in the 2024 Legacy2Action challenge, with a commitment to make a difference in our society, and keep the “Legacy” of the 100th Infantry Battalion relevant by taking “Action” to solve the many problems facing Hawaiʻi. 


Mahalo to Central Pacific Bank, the University of Hawaiʻi Center on Aging, and ‘Iolani School, for partnering with the 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans on this initiative. Thank you to CPB Foundation for their generous grant to support the 100th Infantry Battalion Legacy2Action Student Challenge, and many others who stepped forward to share the legacy of the 100th in a meaningful way — “For Continuing Service.” 


We are proud to report that the 100th Infantry Battalion’s Legacy2Action has grown over the past two years. In 2022, a grassroots group of 100th descendants piloted a Project Based Learning challenge on the 80th Anniversary of the formation of the 100th Infantry Battalion. In its inaugural year, four students and team projects from two schools were submitted. In 2023, it grew to 31 students. This year, we are so pleased to report that over 100 students participated. In addition, we have expanded from a focus on middle and high schools, to include elementary school students and students from the University of Hawaiʻi. The interest in the 100th Infantry Battalion is growing. 


The Legacy2Action 2024 Student Presentations in its entirety, can be viewed below.

2024 Legacy2Action Student Presentations, held on April 28, 2024 at the 100th Infantry Battalion Memorial Building (100th IBV Clubhouse) in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.


Here is a brief overview of the variety of problems identified and how the students proposed creative solutions using the values they learned about 100th Infantry Battalion.


Cy Kaneshiro – Classified. Cy identified a problem where many parts of history were “classified” and although now declassified, most people are not aware of the incidents. Cy mentioned atrocities, like what some 100th veterans were subjected to during World War II. Former President of the 100th IBV, Ann Kabasawa shared with Cy that her father, Raymond Nosaka (B), was sent to Cat Island along with others from the 100th, to take part in an experiment to see if dogs could be trained to detect the Japanese American men by scent. The test failed, and the men returned to their units. Cy said it is our sekinin, or responsibility, to share the stories to honor, remember and perpetuate the legacy.


Katelyn Nishita – G.R.O.W. (Grandparents Retelling of the World) with Kaʻi. The Kaʻi program deals with students from the under-resourced area of Pālolo Valley. Many of the keiki there live in multi-generational homes but don’t know much about their own grandparents – their history and culture. Katelyn sees the giri (obligation) for all children to learn more about their own valuable family history. As such, she will work with one of the Kaʻi elementary classes this summer by sharing interview questions and art kits with them. What a remarkable way to help our kūpuna to feel being valued!


Naomi Uejio – Shared Giri: Hygiene Supplies at the WCCC (Women’s Community Correctional Center). “How you treat the most vulnerable members of society is what shows your character best.” That statement of Naomi’s rang true for me. It is our giri, or moral obligation, to support incarcerated people. In order to help provide the women with necessary hygiene supplies, she has spoken with the chaplain of the Center and also started various methods of fundraising and supplying by connecting with Go Fund Me, Longs/Target, and HMSA.


Yumi Saito – Navigating Our Wellness and Wellbeing. Yumi stressed the importance of our physical and mental health in all of our daily lives. There is much stress in Hawaiʻi, especially with the Maui wildfires of August 2023. However, there are no wellness strategies used at schools in general. Some of her suggestions start with the heart, in encouraging people to build community with others from diverse backgrounds. For conflict management, express gratitude towards others. The legacy of the Nisei soldiers fighting for their families, thus turning the negatives of WWII into positives (hatred and prejudice into love, respect and appreciation), is what Yumi sees as what our human resolution towards life should be: Humanity for all.


Shane Kaneshiro – McKinley’s War Efforts. Shane has an informative presentation available on video with results of his detailed research about the participation in WWII by various McKinley alumni. Shane is the Editor of the McKinley High School newsletter called, “The Pinion,” and he identified that many don’t know about the contributions of Japanese Americans during WWII. He conducted interviews with actual veterans who survived the war, plantation workers who remained back while others went to war, and noted that 132 McKinley High School alumni were killed in action during the war. This included the first two men to be killed in action in the 100th — Shigeo “Joe” Takata (B) and Keichi Tanaka (B). Shane emphasized the Nisei values of gaman (endurance) and doryoku (effort) to help carry on the legacy of the stories left behind by the alumni. We are amazed at the effort Shane puts in to get the various interviews in order to know the Nisei veterans’ true stories.


Maia Green – Fostering a Love for Ethnically and Culturally Diverse Literature Amongst Underprivileged Children. Maia chose to emphasize the Nisei value of giri, or sense of duty. For her, it would be to give back to the community and be grateful for the blessings that we have. Maia developed a love for reading while in elementary school. It is her goal to help encourage others to have a similar love for reading through various types of literature. She had pointed out that there is now a national debate going on regarding some classical books being banned from schools such as, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” She believes that the more you read, the more you will learn. She supports the usage of ethnically and culturally diverse stories. Students are more apt to develop a love for reading when they see a reflection of themselves in the people they read about.


Jett Zenthoefer – The Student Perspective on Peace Studies. Jett emphasized the Nisei value of sekinin – the responsibility to uphold values lies on all of our shoulders. After a recent trip to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he felt a passion to share stories of bravery of the 100th Infantry Battalion, as well as the tragedy of the effects of the use of nuclear bombs to end the war. Jett is a student at the University of Hawaiʻi, and an advocate for Peace and Conflict Resolution to educate students to learn from past generations, to never repeat tragic parts of history. 


Aeryn Imai and Kaelyn Pacpaco – Memory Boxes at Kāhala Nui. In society now, we have a problem where teens are not talking with kūpuna about their stories. Kūpuna may not have anyone to share stories with or may feel that no one wants to hear what they have to say. This team felt their giri, or obligation, is to encourage teens to become engaged and connected with kūpuna. As such, they visited the assisted living center of Kāhala Nui and faced the challenging stigma that kūpuna feel daily. They created memory boxes to provide a tapestry of the kūpuna’s stories, and noted how they felt interacting with the kūpuna. It sounds like a “win-win” and rewarding experience for all involved.


Sijin Qingqing Chen – Plates to Planet: Rethinking Overconsumption & Food Waste. Sijin believes that over-eating can lead to dangerous health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. It can also lead to mental health depression. It is our giri, or duty to ensure that we leave adequate resources for the next generation. We must try to alleviate the effects of global warming. Starting with the cafeteria, 50 pounds of leftovers fed to worms in compost containers could be used as fertilizer for plants when the cycle returns it back to the earth’s plants. For nutrition education, cooking classes can be started. Healthy options can be introduced and, where necessary, regulations made and should be enforced.


Brooke and Ian Yamamoto Little Fire Ants Awareness and Taking Action. Little Fire Ants are harmful to our community and there are horrible bites recorded that cause swelling, pain and itch, and even blind the eyes of dogs and cats (yikes!). Brooke and Ian feel the giri to educate the public before this situation gets out of control. At their booth, they shared a map of Oʻahu where little fire ants have been detected – mostly East Oʻahu, Kailua and cases near the North shore. The Oʻahu Invasive Species Committee says that eradication may still be possible, but they need the community’s help to find the ants. The booth also supplied test kits for people to collect and submit ants for identification.


Henri Li and Leif Yamamoto – Videos by Dr. Kawatachi’s ‘Iolani class. Henri and Leif represented their class, from which three videos were submitted. One project addressed Food Insecurity – many low income families lost their jobs during COVID, and still suffer from food insecurity. As such, this group conducted a food drive to allow people to pick up food for free – canned food, peanut butter, pasta, etc. This group also prepared peanut butter sandwiches for IHS and worked with other organizations such as “End Tables” and “Empty Bowls.” Students learned that the 100th was concerned about future generations, and felt this when they risked their lives at war. The students felt it is their giri, or obligation, to help people with food insecurity.


Another video was an Ala Wai Community Project, where the group identified a major issue with the ecosystem of the Ala Wai Canal. This was intriguing as they studied the use of oysters to filter the water. The oysters would be put into cages, allowing them to latch on, and dropped into the Ala Wai Canal. The cage also would protect the oysters from predators such as crabs. Oysters mature in 1-2 years, and an adult oyster can clean up to 50+ gallons of water a day! The MOMI (Pearl) Project was a project founded by ‘Iolani students. Their research led them to put native oysters in cages and into the Ala Wai to learn more about how this could eventually help to clean the canal. 


The third project was on Gender Inequality, identifying a problem with the pay gap between women and men. In Hawaiʻi, women earn 16% less than men. In Iceland, women earn only 10% less. This group suggests that social media posts can help to persuade and educate the wider community. This would be kodomo no tame ni, or for the sake of the children. It is our giri, or obligation, to treat all people with equal respect. Yes, we concur!


Other videos on Legacy2Action projects were submitted by students who were unable to attend the event in person for various reasons. These projects were as follows.


Owen Lai – Enhancing Community Engagement through Educational Enrichment. Impressively, Owen interviewed many people in the community, both educators and Club 100 members, to research strategies to enhance the spread of the 100th Infantry Battalion’s story. He thinks that to share the story of the rich legacy of the 100th would best be served by integrating it into the curriculum of schools.  Many states have mandated the teaching of Asian American Pacific Island (AAPI) history to educate, promote empathy, and tolerance. Owen felt sekinin, or responsibility, to take the initative to approach legislators to consider a bill to require AAPI education and the values of the 100th in school curriculum. This summer, he will continue to work on this initiative. Best wishes, Owen, in achieving this much needed goal!  


Juliana Shi – Bridge to Confidence: Empowering Second Generation Immigrant Youth in the SHINE English Tutoring Program. There is a need to help bridge the language gap for first and second generation immigrants. Juliana believes that it is the giri, or duty, of the younger generation to help tutor their elders so that they can better integrate into U.S. society. She has created SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Others) welcome packets for those that she helps. 


Taybr Alexio – Sustainable Seeds. There is a lack of sustainability education among children. Taybr says that it is our sekinin, or responsibility, to do more in this regard. Taybr also says that the under-13 age group should be targeted so that they can help impact people from the lower income bracket. Coloring books for youngsters with pictures of fruits and vegetables and other youth friendly methods of influencing family member habits were highlighted.


Leilehua High School JROTC – Educational Awareness and Stewardship of the Kūkaniloko Royal Birthing Stones Site. 80 students of the Leilehua JROTC took on the huge task of clearing the land around the Kūkaniloko Royal Birthing Stones near Wahiawa and reintroduced native plants to beautify the area. The producers of this video carefully weaved several of the 100th Nisei soldiers’ values into their production. It was their giri, or obligation, for the cadets to clear out the land of unwanted foliage in order to restore the sacred site to its natural beauty. Similar to the soldiers of the 100th, the cadets worked on the taxing project as they felt it necessary to show sekinin, or responsibility for it, and also gaman, or endurance, while completing this job. They showed gambari, or perseverance, together with their positive attitude and team spirit. They closed their video with a profound statement that serving others and making a positive impact on the community is of utmost importance to them.


Ms. Katherine Shinsato’s Ala Wai Elementary 3rd Grade Class – Mōʻiliʻili Community. Yes, it takes a village to solve problems together. A few months ago, Ms. Shinsato’s 3rd grade class visited the 100th Infantry Battalion Clubhouse to learn about the 100th and the values that made they successful in war and how they helped the community when the returned home. The 3rd grade class, feel the same obligation to their Mōʻiliʻili community. They learn about moʻolelo (narrative stories of the Native Hawaiian people), history, government and community organizations. They are commited to using their leadership to create a better Hawaiʻi. These 8 year olds shared many ideas and built models on what they envision a pleasant, relaxing, safe and fun place to live in. 


It was so inspiring and emotional to hear the young voices speaking out so passionately about how they identified problems and implemented solutions inspired by the 100th and its values of Gaman (quiet endurance), Ganbari (persistence), Giri (duty, obligation), Enryo (modesty, self-sacrifice), Sekinin (responsibility) and Chuugi (loyalty). Thank you to all the students, advisors, 100th mentors, our partners and sponsors for supporting the 100th IBV Legacy2Action initiative. 


For more photos from the 2024 Legacy2Action Student Presentation event, please visit https://www.100thibv.org/post/2024-legacy2action-student-presentations


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This article has been reprised from articles published in the May 2024 and June 2024 Puka Puka Parade newsletters, written by descendants of 100th Infantry Battalion veterans Elsie Yoshimura (daughter of Thomas Taro Higa (Able)) and Kathi Hayashi (daughter of Tokuichi Hayashi (Able)). Back issues of the Puka Puka Parade can be viewed online, courtesy of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa eVols digitial repository — the most recent issues available to the public can be viewed here: https://hdl.handle.net/10524/66742. For more about the 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans Puka Puka Parade, please visit https://www.100thibv.org/post/puka-puka-parade-newsletter.

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