Monday, February 22, 1999

Japanese American Memorial Foundation
Supporters of this memorial to honor Japanese-American
patriotism during World War II have stepped up
their fund-raising efforts.

memorial to honor
patriotism in WWII

The fund-drive is speeded for
the $8.6 million memorial, which
will list Japanese-American war dead

By Pete Pichaske
Phillips News Service


WASHINGTON -- Slightly more than half way to their fund-raising goal, supporters of a memorial park honoring Japanese-American patriotism during World War II are stepping up efforts to make the park a reality.

A major drive coinciding with the 57th anniversary of the internment of tens of thousands of Japanese Americans was launched last week, as organizers push to meet a fall deadline for raising $8.6 million.

As of Dec. 31, $5 million had been raised since the campaign began 16 months ago.

"I think we're going to make it," said Cherry Tsutsumida, executive director of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation. "We've caught up a lot in the last couple of months."

With its large Japanese American population, Hawaii is one of the states targeted heavily by fund-raisers -- perhaps too heavily.

The campaign in the isles has raised $386,000, slightly more than one-third of its goal of $1 million.

Tsutsumida said the foundation's board has talked of scaling down Hawaii's goal and making up the difference elsewhere.

"Hawaii's goal is only ambitious in light of the economic problems in the state," she said.

Warren Haruki, heading the fund-raising drive in Hawaii, agreed the economy has hampered fund-raising.

"But we're still hopeful of making our goal," he said.

"We've gotten great help from veterans clubs and worked very hard ... Once people understand the memorial itself, they're quite willing to help."

Hideto Kono, a member of the foundation's board who lives in Honolulu, said local members are now hoping for $800,000 to $1 million. A World War II veteran, Kono called the park "a great honor" and a valuable history lesson.

"At a time of hysteria, the Japanese in the United States were treated very badly," he said. "However, the Japanese felt this was their country and they really risked their lives for what they felt was their country."

The memorial, he said, amounts to the U.S. government saying: We will not let this happen again.

Congress approved the park in 1992, at the urging of Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, who fought with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and former U.S. Rep. Norman Mineta of California, who lived in an internment camp as a child.

Inouye is on the honorary board of the memorial foundation, as are the other three members of Hawaii's congressional delegation.

The park would occupy a triangular piece of land a couple blocks north of the U.S. Capitol. It would feature a water pool, long granite walls with bronze sculptures of hands pushing away barbed wire, and a tall cylindrical memorial bell.

The names of the nearly 900 Japanese Americans killed in action during the war -- including many from Hawaii -- will be inscribed on the wall.

The memorial's centerpiece would be a 15-foot tall bronze sculpture depicting two Japanese cranes entrapped in barbed wire, meant to symbolize the Japanese Americans' loss of freedom during the war.

The National Capital Planning Commission tentatively approved the design in October 1997. Groundbreaking is planned for this fall, and the memorial is expected to open a year later.

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