Go For Broke marks anniversaries of D-Day and its monument and reveals plans for its new headquarters.
By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS
Rafu Staff Writer
Overcast skies, unseasonably cool temperatures and light rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of those participating Saturday as the Go For Broke National Education Center marked anniversary of D-Day as well as the 20th year of their organization.
With dozens of Nikkei veterans of four wars in attendance at the ceremony held in front of the black granite Go For Broke Monument in Little Tokyo–itself now a decade old–the organization unveiled plans for a new National Education Center headquarters and Legacy Wall to be constructed at the same site.
The new, 14,999-square foot headquarters will stand north of the monument, replacing an existing parking structure on Temple Street. The Legacy Wall will be erected behind the existing Go For Broke monument and include and additional 15,000 names of Japa¬nese American vets who served the nation during World War II.
Go For Broke expects to break ground for the new center in the fall of 2010, with completion expected by the summer of 2012.
Actor and community activist George Takei emceed Saturday’s event, which coincided with the 65th anniversary of the Allied forces storming the beaches of Normandy, France in 1944, a pivotal event that changed the course of the War in Europe. Speaking directly to the veterans seated in front of him, Takei offered thanks for their service and sacrifice.
“As we burst with pride today, we are grateful and humbled by the freedom they have given us,” Takei said.
A host of community leaders were on hand for the ceremony, including Los Angeles City Councilmember Jan Perry, Japanese Consul General Junichi Ihara, Assemblymember Warren Furutani, Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, who commended the Japanese Americans who placed the utmost value on patriotism and love of country, despite being seen by many as the enemy during the war.
“Veterans fought for our freedoms and way of life, even as their families were being denied those very freedoms,” she said.
Currently, scores of veterans volunteer to sit at the monument daily, to answer questions and provide a living history to those who visit. With the new center adjacent, the volunteers will have a permanent station a mere 10 steps from the monument.
Perry cited the importance of having the oral history of the vets who were there, to bring life to the stories of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 552nd Field Artillery Battalion, the 232nd Combat Engineer Company, the 1399th Engineering Construction Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service. Each of those units is recognized on the Go For Broke Monument and will have more veterans’ names added to the new wall.