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

A warm hello to you. It’s a privilege to reach out to you in my first column.  I first want to thank Geri Lynne Egeler whose dedication and behind-the-scenes painstaking work has put the Foundation procedures, artifacts, and records in good order. Secondly, I want to give sincere applause to Commander Mike Yaguchi for his fierce determination in being a driver in policy and infrastructure change at the Hall. Finally, I recognize that you, a Foundation supporter, are continuing the saga of an enduring community. You honor the values of the Japanese American legacy and the wartime stories of the brave Nisei. 

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Here is a story, via historian Eric Saul, of a brave Nisei. Hiro Higuchi was a chaplain in the 442, whose job in the field was to go through the pockets of the Nisei soldiers who had perished while fighting, return their personal items, and write a letter back home to their families. He remembered what he found in the pocket of one deceased Nisei soldier.  In the wallet was a news clipping describing how the family farm had been completely burned and destroyed by racists. This Nisei soldier, nevertheless, had volunteered for service. Chaplain Higuchi said, “there was no medal high enough in this country to give to this Nisei”, who was now lying lifeless in front of him.

I am not on a battlefield. I am sitting here by the April cherry blossoms at the University, I see people slowing down and taking time to honor what is important. I reflect on what is important to me. Part of that is to honor the ‘heavy lifting’, the extreme sacrifices and contributions of our Issei and Nisei ancestry. Their hard work gave birth to our many decades of community memory.

The Japanese American community has passed through Immigration, the War, Incarceration, Redress, and has attained a desired level of education, employment, and a respected place in society. But what will our community do over the next twenty years as the newer generations grow further from our Issei and Nisei past? What will be remembered and honored?

Call to Action:  I want to work with the Foundation members to continue providing opportunities for Remembrance and Service, no matter how small and humble. It’s the right thing to do. Everyone has something to offer.  Please consider how you might help if you are not already doing so. The Foundation is exploring and considering possibilities of opportunity for you.  Perhaps, it might be connecting disadvantaged minority/women-owned businesses to SBA business development programs. Creating SnapCodes, NFC Tags, or QR codes for our in-house museums and Memorial Wall.   Partnering up in some small but meaningful way with local social justice organizations.  Learning Ikebana. Helping produce a theme-based art contest which offers prize money. Tutoring economically disadvantaged students at Bailey Gatzert, where many of our parents and grandparents went to school until incarceration.

I do sincerely admire and thank all of you who have already sacrificed your time in carrying forward the Japanese American legacy and community memory. You are the story.   Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts.

Thank you.

Shawn (Itoi, Nagashima) Brinsfield