Washington, D.C. - A permanent tribute to Japanese Americans interned by the US government during World War II was unveiled in Los Angeles at the Japanese American National Museum on Saturday, May 31, 2008, less than a week after Memorial Day. The installation was finished in time for the upcoming 20th Anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which offered a national apology and redress to those who were interned.
The tribute, which was made possible by The National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF), is a Donor Wall honoring the thousands of donors who helped build the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II in Washington, D.C. The Donor Wall also pays tribute to the original veterans in the Go For Broke National Veterans Association who organized the effort to secure the federal legislation to build the Memorial and later founded NJAMF.
"This wall in this beautiful museum is a 'thank you' to our many donors. But more importantly, this wall honors great Americans--Americans who served their country in battlefields in Europe and the South Pacific and who followed their country's unjust demand to serve time in concentration camps because they were of Japanese descent. The message of sacrifice, of facing adversity, and of rising to the occasion, is purely American." said NJAMF Chairman of the Board, Craig D. Uchida. "Over the next year, my vision for the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation is to renew and reinvigorate our promise to the Nisei and Issei [second and first generation Japanese immigrants] that we never forget."
The Donor Wall was designed by Sidney Mukai, a designer and a member of NJAMF's board of directors. A significant feature of the installation is a replica of the Crane Monument, a sculpture of a pair of cranes entangled in barbed wire by Nina Akamu, which is a central feature of the Memorial in Washington, D.C. Mukai and Akamu both spoke about the inspiration and meaning of their designs.
The other speakers at the dedication ceremony included: Dr. Akemi Kikumura Yano, CEO of the Japanese American National Museum; Bill Watanabe, director of the Little Tokyo Service Center; Dr. Raymond Murakami, NJAMF Board Member and Donor Wall Committee Chair; Cherry Tsutsumida, former executive director of NJAMF; Maj. Jack Nagano (Ret.), president of the Go For Broke National Veterans Association; and Dr. Craig D. Uchida, Chairman of the Board of NJAMF. Frank Buckley, anchor of the KTLA Morning News, served as the master of ceremonies for the evening. The dedication ceremony ended with a ribbon cutting in front of the Donor Wall, which was followed by a reception.