Monday, February 18, 2013

Memorializing California's Role in WWII

I'm no stranger to Washington, D.C. - in fact I lived nearby for a few months in the eighties - and over the years I've enjoyed several visits to the National Mall. I was with my own kids, and another family, when I first saw the World War II memorial, which was built in 2004. 

I returned to it last year with my daughter....

...and sought out the pillar representing California. 

It's a beautiful memorial, both welcoming and sober, formal without being cold. It got me thinking about memorials closer to home.

This is the West Coast World War II memorial, located in the Presidio on the coast of San Francisco, about 45 minutes from where I live. It was dedicated in 1960, when the war was still fresh in people's minds, overlooking the Pacific ocean.

I don't know how many of the 442nd Battalion - 14,000 volunteers of Japanese descent from Hawaii and those interned in mainland camps - died in the war. I do know that they were awarded 21 Medals of Honor and 9,486 Purple Hearts, and that their motto was "Go for Broke." They were the most decorated unit to serve in the history of American warfare , and were lauded by President Roosevelt for their bravery.

A veterans organization taking its name from the 442nd's motto built a monument to them in the Little Tokyo area of L.A. 

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