In honor of Memorial Day, it's important to remember the soldiers who risk their lives everyday for our safety. This day, we should sit back and take the time to really appreciate the veterans and current soldiers of our country.
So, today's lesson will be highlighting the 442nd infantry regiment, composed of all Japanese-American soldiers who fought their way through stereotypes, discrimination, and Germany.
After Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were discriminated and excluded more than before. So when WWII commenced, the second-generation Japanese Americans (Nisei) were determined to prove to the public their loyalty and patriotism for the U.S.
Unfortunately, they were labeled as enemy-aliens under Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066, which forbade them from enlisting in the draft. Still, they were undeterred. The Nisei in Hawaii started their own manual labor group to help the war effort, digging barracks and building supplies. This caught the attention of military officials, who decided to give them a chance. In January 1943, the Nisei got their first opportunity to fight in the war. Over 10,000 volunteers signed up, when they only needed 1,500.
When Roosevelt signed into action the 442nd regiment officially in February of that same year, the results were strange. Over 2/3 of the regiment was made up of Hawaiian-Japanese volunteers, while only 1/3 consisted of mainland Japanese-Americans. Undoubtedly, this was because of the discrimination the mainlanders faced, and with the onslaught of detention camps, many were discouraged to enlist.
The regiment proved to be extremely resilient and strong. During their time in battle, they "entered the Vosges Mountains to attempt a rescue, after two attempts by other units had failed. After five days of horrific combat, the Texans were rescued by the Japanese Americans. The 442nd suffered casualties several times the number of men they had rescued. In the process, the men liberated the towns of Bruyeres, Belmont, and Biffontaine, whose inhabitants continue to honor the 442nd with monuments , museums, and streets named in their honor."(Densho Encyclopedia)
The incredible bravery and unity of these men lives on in their well-known motto "Go For Broke" which represents their defiance of all expectations. In the end, the regiment is now the most decorated in history due to their several victories in battle.
Today, it's certainly no exaggeration to say that they have changed history forever by defying stereotypes and serving their country fearlessly.
Author: Carina Sun
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In Honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
We are bringing you the stories of inspirational Asian Americans from history.
5/30/20 - The Exceptional Example Ronald Takaki Set
5/27/20 - The Incredible Legacy of Kalpana Chawla
5/26/20 - When Marrying a Non-American Meant Losing Your Citizenship
5/25/20 - Honoring the 442nd Infantry Regiment
5/24/20- A Glimpse at Asian-Americans in Hollywood -- Miyoshi Umeki
5/22/20 - The Oriental Schools of San Fransisco
5/21/20 - Equality For All Colors - Yick Wo v. Hopkins
5/20/20 - An End To Police Brutality: Peter Yew's Stand
5/19/20 - Finding His Form: Linsanity in 2012
5/18/20 - Internment and Injustice: Fred T. Korematsu
5/17/20 - The Courageous Stand of Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo
5/16/20 - The Unbreakable Spirit of Wong Kim Ark
5/15/20- The Admirable Perseverance of Patsy Takemoto Mink
5/13/20 - The Lasting Legacy of Grace Lee Boggs
5/12/20-Remembering "The Forgotten" -- The Chinese migrants who built America's first Transcontinental railroad
5/11/20 - The Singing Neurosurgeon: Dr. Ayub Ommaya