• 1212 South King Street, Seattle, WA 98144
  • (206) 322-1122
  • info@nvcfoundation.org

On Monday, May 27, a warm sun pierced thru the morning chill as the Nisei Veterans Committee and NVC Foundation and its community of members, volunteers, supporters, and friends successfully commemorated the 79th Annual Nisei Veterans Memorial Day Service at the well-manicured and historic grounds of Lake View Cemetery on Seattle’s scenic Capitol Hill.  

Nearly 150 people attended the event to solemnly reflect on and honor the those who gave their lives for our country — the fallen soldiers from our community.  This special day brought together dignitaries and representatives from Japan, U.S Government, branches of the U.S. military, numerous community organizations, business leaders, our own members, and local Capitol Hill neighbors taking the opportunity to respectfully participate in one of the longest running memorial services in the country.

Keynote Speaker 1LT Roberto J. Whyte, Commander, Company C, 100-442 Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord expressed his honor to be speaking at our Memorial Day Service. He referenced the storied past of the 442nd Regimental Combat Unit and his respect of leading this unit, one of the most highly decorated in U.S. Army history.

As Commander, he is committed to teaching all soldiers of the legacy of the Nisei soldier who embodied courage, sacrifice, valor, and patriotism while standing against injustice and racial discrimination.  He cited their heroic actions and immense resolve earning them the nickname “Go for Broke” reflecting their willingness to risk everything for the ideals of freedom and justice.

Whyte is personally moved by the legacy of the Nisei soldier’s courage and sacrifice that defined their history. He is devoted to lead, serve, and be a part of something greater than himself. He and his men use this legacy as the “guiding star” for their daily conduct and commitment to their country not just in words, but in their actions striving for integrity, service to country, patriotism, and standing against injustice while striving for a more inclusive and just society.

The audience provided him an appreciative applause for his personal and insightful messages. He was accompanied by sons Antonio and Emilio.

Additional special guests included: New Consul General of Japan Makoto Iyori and his wife Yuko; Rear Admiral Jamie Kelly, USN (Ret.), former Commander 66th Aviation Brigade (Corps) Washington Army National Guard; Washington State Senator Bob Hasegawa; Washington State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos; Joseph Najmolhoda, King County Director of Veteran’s Affairs, Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray; Uwajimaya founder Tomio Moriguchi; and 101-year-old Kimitomo Muromoto, 442nd RCT veteran (dressed in uniform) who was warmly  recognized by the audience as he solely and proudly represented his NVC WWII veteran colleagues who have passed away or were physically unable to attend.

Exchange students from Japan also made the effort to attend while using the opportunity to learn about American history.   After the service, they were treated to a guided tour of NVC Hall furthering their American education.

It was wonderful to see and feel the human interaction as we continue the NVC tradition to remember and honor those fallen soldiers from our community; it is one of the few events where the entire Japanese American Community comes together as one, a tradition and remembrance that must be carried on by future generations.

With determined energy and commitment, volunteers led by Dale Kaku and long-time volunteer and truck provider Mark Hidaka of City Produce assembled in the early morning to pick-up, load, and quickly set up the essential folding chairs. Each seat was strategically placed forming a theater-like setting to allow every attendee a clear sightline to the service. Thank you, Set-Up Crew!!!

Lake View Cemetery Manager Craig Lohr and Assistant Sid Ko and their excellent cemetery team once again provided the needed tents, stage, and labor at no cost to the NVC.  The entire grounds were freshly prepared and the areas where the NVC Memorial is located, as usual, were beautifully adorned to provide the perfect setting and ambiance.  We are very fortunate, appreciative, and honored to have this strong and longstanding relationship with Lake View Cemetery that has spanned decades. Thank you, Lake View Cemetery!!!

Traffic flowed smoothly into the cemetery as safe drop-offs of seniors close to the event location were carefully monitored, while parking was orderly due to the oversight and directions provided by Kevin Fukuhara and Warren Higa.  Great work by the Traffic Control team!!!

The professional sound system was strategically placed, tested, tweaked, and fine-tuned by AVR Productions.  Kevin MacCulley (Retired U.S. Air Force Veteran), President of AVR Productions again provided the equipment, time, and skillful oversight of the microphones and background music complimentary to the NVC. We extend a grateful thanks to Kevin once again!!!

In her 19th year as the emcee, Colleen Fukui-Sketchley delivered another fine performance as she eloquently welcomed the audience, called for the colors, introduced honored guests and participants to the podium, and provided the necessary background, emotion, and feeling for the service. We extend thanks to Colleen for her continued years of service as the graceful voice of the NVC Memorial Day Service!!!

Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple Boy Scout Troop 252, led by Scout Master Rob Ketcherside, again provided the ceremonial presentation and retiring of colors for the Memorial Service. Each scout arrived early to prepare their steps and cadence to this important procedure. Their practice proved worthy as they demonstrated professionalism beyond their years. Troop 252 Scouts were: Alexander Bertelsen, Theo Kaku, Ansel Ketcherside, Felix Kordich, and Reese Tanabe. The community is very proud of these young leaders as they learn of the sacrifices made by soldiers who fought for our freedoms. Their demonstration of leadership and volunteer service are to be commended and recognized. Thank you, Troop 252!!!

Colonel Kay Wakatake, (USA Ret.) led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.  We thank Colonel Wakatake for her participation and service to our country!!!

The National Anthem was superbly performed by 2017 NVC Scholarship Recipient Danielle Hirano as she provided her second public performance of the anthem, drawing heart-felt applause from the audience. Danielle is a regular supporter of the NVC and a great example of the talent and character of the NVC Scholars that have been uniquely selected by the scholarship committee. Thank you, Danielle!!!

Each Memorial Day Service is solemnly unique especially with the tailored and carefully crafted messages and prayers delivered by clerics from the Christian Churches and Buddhist Temples. The audience carefully listened and reflected as they spoke and chanted. In sincere appreciation, we thank the following:

  • Invocation – Rev. Lisa Ishihara, University Chaplain, Seattle Pacific University (See attachment)
  • Meditation – Rimban Katsuya Kusunoki, Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, Rev. Taijo Imanaka, Seattle Koyasan Buddhist Temple, and Rev. Ekou Murakami, Seattle Nichiren Buddhist Church
  • Reflection – Eugene Onishi, Co-Lay Leader, Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church
  • Benediction – Rev. Dr. J.P. Kang, Pastor, Japanese Presbyterian Church of Seattle

New NVC Commander Dale Watanabe provided an excellent welcome by recognizing everyone, stressing the importance of the NVC Memorial Day Service to remember and honor the service and ultimate sacrifices of fallen soldiers from the Japanese American community, as well as the Gold Star families who endured the loss of a family member. He thanked all those who continue to support this annual remembrance.

Past NVC Foundation President Shawn Brinsfield thanked all participants for continuing to participate and attend the annual service and eloquently spoke on the WWII servicemen who gave their lives but whose remains were never found. The families suffered. He mentioned PFC Masao Ikeda and Private Edward Ikebe, both of whom perished in France. Two descendants of Private Ikebe were present, stood, and were warmly recognized. (Note: the remains of PFC Ikeda were found in 1951).

The NVC and NVC Foundation were honored by the attendance and participation of veterans, the Japanese Consulate, organizational partners, friends, and supporters through the traditional offering of decorative floral wreaths. As the community wreaths were carried to the Memorial, one could solemnly associate the petals of flowers as symbols of the many individuals, families, and organizations who lost loved ones during war or conflict and their ardent beauty as elements depicting honor, reverence, and remembrance.

The following organizations and representatives reverently participated in the wreath presentations:

  • Gold Star Families – Colonel Kay Wakatake, (USA Ret.) and Frank Kiuchi, NVC Executive Council Member
  • Consulate General of Japan – Makoto Iyori, Consul General of Japan, and Spouse Yuko Iyori
  • Japan-America Society of the State of Washington – Masami Katayama, Chair, Executive Committee and David Yamaguchi, Executive Director
  • Federation of the Buddhist Churches of Seattle:
    •      Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple – Tyler Moriguchi, Board President    
    •      Seattle Koyasan Buddhist Temple – Charles Hudelot, Board President
    •      Seattle Nichiren Buddhist Church – Rev. Ekou Murakami
  • Japanese American Citizens League, Seattle Chapter – Kyle Kinoshita, President
  • Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington – Kurt Tokita, Board President
  • Kawabe Memorial House – Alfred Mustey Shiga
  • Keiro Northwest – John Matsumoto, Board Member, and Amy Nguyen, Executive Director Nikkei Manor
  • UW Nikkei Alumni Association / SYNKOA – NVC represented
  • Seattle Dojo – Sensei Alan Yamada
  • American Legion Cathay Post 186 – Haydon Mar, Past Commander, and Gerald Chang, 2nd Vice Commander
  • Nisei Veterans Committee – Dale Watanabe, Commander
  • NVC Foundation – Shawn Brinsfield, Past President

The playing of Taps and the retiring of the colors concluded the formalities of the 79th Annual NVC and NVC Foundation Memorial Day Service.

KOMO 4 news and King 5 news covered the event. Attached is the link to the televised report by King 5 News Reporter Brady Wakayama: https://www.king5.com/video/news/local/281-41c1bc3d-c6c3-44ec-9b48-c957f5cd1b57

A special thanks to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly to contribute to the success of the event, as well as the participants and attendees who continue to remember the sacrifices of the fallen soldiers from our community.

Please mark your calendars as we look forward a very special 80th Annual Nisei Veterans Committee Memorial Day Service in 2025.