Friday, July 16, 1999

Words from Hawaii will
grace AJA memorial

By Pete Pichaske
Phillips News Service


WASHINGTON -- When the memorial park to World War II-era Japanese Americans is unveiled here, it will include a water pool, a tall cylindrical bell, bronze sculptures, and quotes from two of Hawaii's best-known Japanese Americans, Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga.

During a review of the project yesterday, the capital's Fine Arts Commission was mildly critical of the large number of inscriptions proposed, warning that visitors would be overloaded with information.

But both commission members and park designers are adamant that, even if the number of inscriptions is pared, quotes from Inouye and Matsunaga should stay.

"It's not finally determined, but there's a very good chance" the quotes will be used, commission spokesman Charles Atherton said. "The commission has no objection at all. Sen. Inouye has played a very important role in this whole thing."

"It's very unofficial, but we're trying very hard to keep those two," said Cherry Tsutsumida, executive director of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation. "They resonate very strongly with the Japanese-American community."

The memorial park, planned for several years, will sit on a small triangle of land near the U.S. Capitol. The memorial will honor the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II as well as those who fought for the United States.

The names of about 900 Japanese Americans who lost their lives during the war will be inscribed on a granite wall.

Designers also want to adorn the wall with statements from Presidents Truman, Ford and Reagan lauding Japanese-American contributions and condemning the internment.

Designers have proposed quotes war veterans Inouye and Matsunaga, both towering figures in the Japanese-American community. Inouye shepherded the bill authorizing the park through the U.S. Senate in 1992. Matsunaga, a senator from Hawaii from 1976 until his death in 1990, led congressional efforts to provide redress to interned Japanese Americans.

"We want the wall to have something more than the words of Anglo-Saxon men," said Tsutsumida. She predicted the final design will include quotes from both men.

Fund-raising for the park has picked up in the last few months, following a renewed effort.

Organizers have reached about 90 percent of their goal of $8.6 million, said Tsutsumida. That includes their revised goal of $800,000 from Hawaii. "We're pretty much on track," she said.

Organizers hope to begin construction this fall, and open the park late next year.


The quotes proposed:

"The lessons learned ... must remain ... as a grave reminder of what we must not allow to happen again to any group."
-- Sen. Inouye

"What motivated these Americans of Japanese descent? We fought to bring an end to second-class citizenship for first-class Americans."
-- Sen. Matsunaga

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