Japanese American WWII Veterans Look Back on Pearl Harbor

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Seventy years ago today, Japan attacked a naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, killing and wounding thousands of Americans. The enemy might have been Japan, but in the American melting pot there were many Japanese faces. The Pearl Harbor inspired solidarity in America soon gave way to distrust and a staggering suspension of the U.S. Constitution. "War Relocation Camps" for 100,000 Japanese-Americans were set up, and entire families of American citizens were forced to halt their lives and move. Some of those relocated Japanese-Americans petitioned the U.S. to serve in combat as a way of demonstrating their loyalty. The petitions were accepted, and soon Japanese-Americans were fighting as both volunteers and drafted servicemen.

Two Japanese American veterans join The Takeaway to share their memories of Pearl Harbor, and World War II.

Virgil Westdale is a veteran of the Japanese American 442nd division, the most decorated combat regiment in U.S. history. He went on to help free the prisoners of the Dachau Concentration Camp and last month, received a Congressional Gold Medal.

And Terry Shima was drafted to serve in Italy in 1944, just in time to see the war end. He is a historian with the Japanese American Veterans Association, and also a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal.


Terry Shima and Virgil Westdale

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer and Duncan Wilson

Comments [2]


Of course no invoking of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his liberal Supreme Court that made the infamous executive order for interment possible.

The liberal Democrat icons are ignored but the hosts make sure to indict the US military during World War II and not "the ruling of the government at the time".
No mention that the architect who designed the Pearl Harbor Memorial was interned at the same time since he was Austrian born much like the Italian and German Americans who were interned and restricted like Joe DiMaggio's father.

This typically selective and politically prejudiced view of history is not surprising because the security blanket called the progressive historical narrative must be defended dishonestly. The moral stains of race based interment and segregation were zealously engineered by those who called themselves progressives and liberal Democrats and is covered up by modern progressives who condemn the nation as a whole and not the so-called liberals who led it.

"Incredible history" and "wow" indeed.

Dec. 07 2011 10:16 AM
Alan Nakamura from Denver, CO

A great interview with fascinating insights; I wasn't aware that Virgil was a Flight Instructor at the start of the War!

Just a quick correction... in the interview John referred to the "442nd Division"; actually, their name was the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

Something we can never forget, so that the same mistakes will never occur again.

Dec. 07 2011 08:03 AM

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