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Friday, November 10, 2017

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF VETERANS DAY

There were previous remembrances, but in 1954, the November 11 holiday was named Veterans (note:  not Veterans' or Veteran's) Day, celebrating all those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Memorial Day in May honors those who DIED while in military service.  There is another in May, on the third Saturday, called Armed Forces Day, which specifically honors those currently in service.

For the record, 22 million of us have served, 1.4% of females and 13.4% of males, and more specifically:
  • Army        3.1%
  • Navy         1.7%
  • Marine  s  0.8%
  • Air Force  1.4%
Finally:


The USA has by far the strongest military today.  After all, we spend more than the next eight nations, combined:
RankCountrySpending
($ Bn.)
 % of GDP
World total1,6862.2
1United States United States611.23.3
2China China[a]215.71.9
3Russia Russia69.25.3
4Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia[a][b]63.710
5India India55.92.5
6France France55.72.3
7United Kingdom United Kingdom48.31.9
8Japan Japan46.11.0
9Germany Germany41.11.2
Add up #'s 2-9 and you get $596 billion.

The USA has made that crucial difference in shaping the world today.  We won the Revolutionary, Civil, Second World and Cold Wars, while more recently neutralizing Communism and Islamic extremists in all subsequent skirmishes.  While the whole nation made this happen, clearly, we are indebted to our veterans, particularly those who lost their lives or got wounded.

Personally, my life was made a lot easier by those Americans of Japanese ancestry who participated in World War II.  The combined 100th Battalion and 442nd Infantry Regiment became the most decorated unit in the history of American warfare.  In total, 14,000 served, earning 9,486 Purple Hearts.  Twenty-one were awarded Medals of Honor.   There were around 800 deaths.

Very little is known about the 6,000 Japanese Americans who were part of the Military Intelligence Service, mostly in the Pacific Region.  They were instrumental and in generally in grave danger, but much of what they did has long been kept secret.  Those who served have not said much.  This will be a posting later this year if I can get more information.

How was my life made easier?  Before World War II, Japanese were second class citizens in Hawaii.  The service of the 100th/442nd totally changed the political, economic and sociological structure of the 50th State. We would not have gotten statehood in 1959 without their sterling record.  These soldiers (almost all in the Army, for the Navy and Air Force did not accept them) used the GI Bill and returned as leaders of the State.  I served under U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga, who had a Purple Heart and still a shrapnel in his knee.  I also worked closely with U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, who lost an arm and helped provide for much I asked for the University of Hawaii.

I hesitate to say I'm a veteran, for my service was only in the Army Reserve, and I did everything possible to avoid going to Viet Nam, and succeeded.  However, I was a member of the 442nd and wore this patch on my uniform.

There have been three films on their valor:  

  • In 1951 Van Johnson starred, with several actual veterans of the 442nd.  Here is the complete Go For Broke film.  Rotten Tomatoes audiences gave it a 77 score.
  • Go For Broke 2017:  the World Premier will occur tomorrow, Saturday, November 12, at Hawaii Theater (sold out) and Dole Cannery.  Also, November 16 at Waimea Theater on Kauai and November 19 at Hilo Palace Theater.
Appropriately enough, for we have a number of World War II 442 veterans living at 15 Craigside, the Royal Hawaii Band came to entertain us on the eve of this Veterans Day holiday:


Above, Bandmaster Clarke Bright (he worked for my Institute when he was a student at the University of Hawaii), with singers, Karen Keawehawaii and (I think it was Kalani ......).  Karen sang Kawa No Nagare No Yo-Ni, said to be the most popular song in Japan, and focused on older Japanese songs for the audience:


She also sang My Yellow Ginger Lei, written by her father, John.  There is something about being in the front facing a real orchestra.  You feel the instrument vibrations and get enveloped by the music:


They come to entertain us two or three times annually.  Thank you Clarke.

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