By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
Weekends should be a time to kick back and relax, especially for those of us who are labeled as “seniors.”
This past week was the complete opposite for me.
Saturday night I attended the Go For Broke Foundation’s “Evening of Aloha” at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel. The round-trip drive was taxing enough but I figured I would be home in plenty of time to get some rest.
Wrong. We arrived at 4 p.m. and left at 10 while the evening was not yet completed.
My goodness! Six hours at a “social function.”
This is to say that it was not an unpleasant evening. I was able to chat with Taro Uchizono and his wife, Estella, because I, along with my wife, were his guests at the dinner.
As I often point out, long speeches prolonged the evening.
English section Editor Gwen Muranaka was in attendance so I know I don’t have to make any more comments on the program and the speakers.
On Sunday, I was invited to be the speaker at the Nikkei Widowed Group’s (NWG) gathering held at Keiro Retirement Home in Boyle Heights.
There was a nice turn-out and I was able to meet many of the members who said they were Rafu subscribers, thus, some of them read my column.
There were a lot of familiar faces in the audiences but as is often the case, I couldn’t put the face with the name. Again, old age, I guess.
The most important thing about attending the NWG event was that I learned the story behind the organization and feel that in the near future I would like to do a column on them since it is a story which should be made known to other members of the Japanese American community.
I’m in the process of getting the details on the formation of the group which was organized 20 years ago.
I would like to thank Yuki Yamashita for extending me the invitation to be their guest speaker.
I hope I was able to entertain the gathering since I know I’m not the world’s greatest speaker. World? Heck, I’m not even close to being the JA community’s speechmaker.
One thing I did mention that it felt good being with a group of people and not being the oldest person in the room. Most of the members are seniors so age-wise I guess I fitted in pretty well.
I was surprised to see Maggie in the audience. She’s the one who types my column for printing. She was probably thinking, “You’d better stick to writing.”
(Maggie’s comment: It was through the kindness of Yuki Yamashita that I was able to attend this event. Thank you, Yuki. I met some very nice ladies and three friends whom I had not seen in years. It was enjoyable and I believe a successful event for Mr. Y.)
While in a Nisei vets mode, Robert Wada, a Korean War vet is in the process of writing a couple of books.
Bob sent me an e-mail that the title of his book is “Japanese American Korean War Veterans” and the reason he contacted me is as follows:
“This is my plea for first person combat and non-combat stories of the experiences of Japanese American veterans during the Korean War. The book is primarily dedicated in memory of the 251 Nisei who gave their lives in the war. At this time I have 68 stories and very few photographs. I am looking for photos that will be appropriate for the book. For years, I have urged Korean War vets to come forward with their stories and I have many by interviews but the ole Japanese enryo is still prevalent.
“I would like you to give me a short plug and let the Korean War vets know the book is a reality and if they have a story, by all means give it to me. This will be the first opportunity to have their story or photos placed in the book. If a family of a deceased Korean War vet has a story written by the deceased, we welcome them to submit it as long as it is his own story.
“After the book is published, it will be too late to say, ‘Damn, I should have given Bob my story. It is a lot better than the ones he has in the book.’ I want to avoid this if I can and I am now afraid time is going against me, so I need to publish this book posthaste.
“We had some problems during the course of assembling stories and setting up materials. Unfortunately, we may have lost a story or two and maybe some photos. I hope this will bring some inquires and I can answer the veterans and if his story is currently included in the book or not.
“In your column of Saturday, Nov. 7, you mentioned that Kaz Watanabe gave you a short blurb on George Shibata. We knew George as our attorney who helped us incorporate the Suburban Optimist Club in the 60’s. During that time, I never knew his military background and in those days we didn’t discuss our military past with each other. For this book, we would like to have a more complete story on George and if anyone can furnish his story, preferably by e-mail, it would really fill a tremendous gap in the book.
“A photo of him in flying gear or at West Point would be great to go with the story.
“Thanks for taking the time to read this, but all I am asking from you is to give our book a plug for stories and photos from Japanese American Korean War vets. I must have them by Nov. 30, the absolute deadline. They can be sent to my e-mail address: [email protected] or call me at (714) 992-5461.”
Hope you get a response, Bob. I think your project is great in retaining the history of the Nisei who served in the Korean War.
A reader who signs his e-mail only as Pacmoy sent this correction on a piece I did in a recent column.
He wrote: “Your article in the Tuesday, Nov. 10 Rafu Shimpo mentioned that George Nakashima (Korean War pilot) is interned at Green Hills Memorial Park in San Pedro. Green Hills Memorial Park is in Rancho Palos Verdes.”
I guess I’m from the old school. As I recall, the area of the park in its early days was referred to as San Pedro.
The old World War II Navy housing tract, next door to the park, as I recall, was listed as being in San Pedro.
Three weeks ago, when I was in Houston for the 442nd RTC/Texas Lost Battalion celebration, I did a piece on George Sakato, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who was honored at the event.
Well, a week after that, at a Veterans Memorial Dedication presented by the Agua Dulce Civic Association, County Supervisor Mike Antonovich recognized Sakato at the event.
In recognizing Sakato, Antonovich said, “It’s my honor to join with you and a grateful nation to honor the 50 million men and women who have served their country in the Armed Forces. Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, George Sakato tried to enlist at the onset of World War II, but was rejected and classified as an enemy alien. Later he and other patriotic Japanese Americans were allowed to enlist and were assigned to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Company E in Europe.
“While serving in Italy, he was wounded twice. Sakato distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action. Sakato’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest tradition of military service and reflects great credit to his unit (442) and the United States Army.”
Thanks to Mike for recognizing a Nisei war hero.
A few more words on the “Evening of Aloha” that I forgot to mention in the earlier segment of today’s column.
I knew that Tets Asato was active in the 442nd Foundation but I was not aware that he was the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
I learned this when I was glancing through the program booklet which was passed out to all those in attendance.
He and Christine Yamazaki wrote the welcome message in the booklet.
I first met Tets at Heart Mountain before he joined the 442nd. I guess I kind of lost track of him for a number of years until the vets’ organization became active in the JA community.
One thing I have to thank Tets for was in getting my name on the Vets Monument near the Japanese American National Museum, which contains the names of all JAs who served in the war. He was one of those who worked on the listing.
One day when we were chatting he said, “Horse, you served during the war. How come your name is not included?”
So he did the checking out and from what I learned from him was that I wasn’t listed as a serviceman.
The reason? I later learned that hose of us who served in the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corp., were not recognized for one reason or another.
However, through Tets’ effort, this policy was changed and before the final planning of the monument was complete, my name was listed. So I have Tets to thank for that.
No, I was not a war hero by any stretch of the imagination, but I did serve.
One of the things we see quite often these days as we Nisei get older, is the aging generation using canes and other devices to walk. Many are in wheel chairs, too.
Well, perhaps Japan is coming up with a solution to this problem.
Japan has one of the world’s fastest aging population and mobility for seniors is getting to be a major problem.
So, a Japanese electronic firm is developing a robot which can be strapped to those with physical problems which will boost the wearer’s strength and mobility.
In July 2009, the robotic suit known as the Hybrid Assisted Limb, allowed a senior citizen in a nursing home to walk for the first time in two years. His movement surprised even the developer of the robot. He said he expected the patient to stand up, but not to walk.
We may, one of these days, see the robot suit in the U.S. because the maker is aiming to improve the lives of senior citizens around the world.
None will dispute that Japan is the leader in electronics and robotics.
At the present time, the robotic suits are available in Japan on a rental basis only with a charge of $2,400 per month.
That would probably keep it from becoming a top seller in the U.S. like Japanese-made cars.
After I made a few comments on today’s medical profession in a recent column, a reader sent me a few laughers abut doctors. Try these:
•If you tell a doctor you want a second opinion, he will go out of the room and come in again.
•Another time, he gave a patient six months to live. At the end of six months, the patient hadn’t paid his bill so the doctor gave him another six months.
• Awhile he was talking to a patient, the nurse came in and said, “Doctor, there is a man here who thinks he is invisible.” The doctor said, “Tell him I can’t see him.”
•Another patient told the doctor that he thought he was a deck of cards. The doctor simply said, “Go sit over there. I’ll deal with you later.”
Well, I guess you’ll get the idea about modern medicine.
Okay, let me go from medicine to law.
I’m sure all of you have followed the horror of the Fort Hood shooting in which 13 were killed and over 30 wounded.
Now a lawyer assigned to defend him is telling the media that his client will not get a fair trial.
Did I miss something here?
A guy kills 13 people with dozens of witnesses who saw him carry out his deadly assault and a lawyer thinks he won’t get a fair trial?
Since my son is a lawyer, I guess I’d better not make any further comments.
I just wonder what the families of the victims think when they heard about the lawyer’s comments?
I am frequently asked how I manage to fill two pages of the Rafu each week.
“How do you get your ideas for writing so much?” is the query.
Well, I have to bounce around a lot, especially on the Internet on my computer. I can’t use the stuff that I read but it opens my mind to ideas.
Example: Well, I often check out the KCAL9 Internet news and some of the stuff I find are usable to go along with my own comment.
For example: Sunday evening I was kind of stuck so I went to the Internet.
Three of the top stories had heads reading: “Man Suspected of Killing Wife and Stepdaughter”; “Man Shot In The Head in Southwest L.A.” and “Fatally Shot in Santa Fe Springs Parking Lot.”
The first thought: What’s this world coming to?
The second: Isn’t there any other kind of news out there?”
It’s not only in the Los Angeles area. I clicked on the Las Vegas Review Journal on my computer and sure enough, there were several killings there.
One thing for sure. When my wife wants to go on a quick shopping trip, I don’t let her drive alone anymore. I always drive her to where she wants to go, be it the supermarket or the pharmacy.
No, if something horrible is going to happen as described in the newscasts, my presence certainly isn’t going to make any difference if some idiot with a weapon is bent on shooting people, but at least I’ll be there.
Maybe I should move to Maui.
Believe it or not, Hollywood Park has completed its first week of racing and I haven’t been out to the Inglewood track yet. Hope to break the string this week, however.
I guess the absence of my favorite jockey, Corey Nakatani, has something to do with my absence.
Since I know him, I used to go to the races just to see him ride, even though I may not bet on him.
By the way, I’ve been trying to find out what happened to him. He hasn’t ridden for about three weeks now.
I know he’s been doing some TV commercials for the San Manuel Indian casino. Did he quit riding to become a spokesman for San Manuel?
Time for a bit of “feel good” note. It comes from reader, Anna Taka who wrote:
“Hi, Horse, you have been writing many interesting stories of Nisei and their accomplishments. So I thought you might be interested in what a particular Nisei person has been doing for these past years.
“I first became aware of this when I began working at West Bay Medical Center in Culver City. She would take off on lunch hours to visit patients. I later learned that these ‘patients’ were those who had mastectomies and Mae Kakehashi was alerted by the American Cancer Society, Reach to Recovery Program to talk to them as many were unhappy with their situation.
“She is a very attractive lady and not only being a cancer survivor herself, she was a perfect model to relate to their needs and offer encouragement. Some of the ladies whom I met later expressed their gratitude for her concern and compassion.
“On Sept. 30, the Los Angeles Coastal Unit of the American Cancer Society had a Volunteer Recognition program including Length of Service and Volunteer Recognition Awards. There were eight persons receiving the Length of Service Award ranging from 15 to 60 years of service. Mae Kakehashi received the 35-year award.
“Keiro Senior Healthcare will be presenting a Caregivers’ Conference at L.A. Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Church on Nov. 21 and Mae will be representing the American Cancer Society.”
Thanks, Taka. I hope your letter will encourage many to attend the conference.
So, we’ll wind up with another bit of “feel good.”
A young man shopping in a supermarket noticed a little old lady following him around. If he stopped, she stopped. Furthermore, she kept staring at him.
She finally overtook him at the checkout stand. She turned to him and said, “I hope I haven’t made you feel ill at ease. It is just that you look so much like my late son.”
He answered, “That’s okay.”
“I know it’s silly, but if you’d call out ‘Good-bye, Mom,’ as I leave the store, it would make me feel so happy.”
She then went through the checkout and as she was on her way out, the man called out, ‘Goodbye, Mom.’
The little old lady waved and smiled back at him.
Pleased that he had brought a little sunshine into someone’s day, he went to pay for his groceries.
“That comes to $121.85,” said the clerk.
“How come so much? I only bought five items.”
The clerk replied, “Yeah, but your mother said you’d be paying for her groceries, too.”
Finally, as a UCLA fan, I really got a charge out of the headline in one of the newspapers about Stanford’s trouncing of the USC football team.
It read: “The Only Bowl SC Is Going To Is the Toilet Bowl.”
George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.