A monument to the soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was dedicated on Dec. 16 as a tribute to the bravery, patriotism and dedication of local Japanese American residents who served in one of the U.S. Army’s most-decorated units during World War II.
The ceremony honored county residents who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and veterans Frank Kageta, Shig Yokote, Al Nitta, and Norman Kamada were among the dignitaries present at the dedication. The memorial is located on Justice Center Drive near the Placer County Superior Court building. Placer County also has named a roadway at the Santucci Center “Go for Broke Road” to commemorate the unit’s motto.
“While the story of the 442nd began with its share of injustice and discrimination in the end it became a story of patience and fortitude, of unparalleled sacrifice, and of forgiveness. And ultimately it is a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit,” said Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes.
Holmes recognized Howard Nakae as an example of Nisei soldiers who returned to the area after the war to rebuild their lives.
“Begin anew they did, without showing signs of malice or resentment, they opened shops, worked on ranches, began landscaping businesses and nurseries, they became leaders in agriculture, business, education, government, and yes, even law enforcement,” said Holmes.
For the first phase of the memorial, Placer County created a 36-foot wide concrete compass and framed an open space to the south with two large granite boulders that represent the struggles soldiers endured coming out of the Vosges Mountains in France. One boulder has an inlaid bronze plaque with a dedication message from the Board of Supervisors and the other boulder has a bronze plaque that describes the history of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In phase two, Placer County also plans to include inscribed names of every Placer County resident who served in the unit on either granite or bronze.
The Placer County Japanese American Citizens League plans to add a bronze statue during a second phase of the project within the next year.
The six-foot-tall bronze sculpture, designed by Frank Borka, depicts a Japanese American soldier of the 100th Battalion/442nd RCT helping rescue a wounded soldier of the 36th Texas Division, who were trapped by Nazi troops for days and became known as the “Lost Battalion.”
“Placer County and the Placer County Japanese American Citizens League want to make sure the public never forgets the patriotism and dedication of the more than 100 soldiers from our county who served in the 442nd,” said Chairman F.C. “Rocky” Rockholm of the Board of Supervisors.
“The unit’s battlefield successes and dedication to our country are one of the most remarkable, heart-warming stories of World War II. The memorial will help ensure that the story of the 442nd and its soldiers will endure.”
Placer County JACL has committed to a nationwide effort to raise $120,000 for this bronze sculpture. Their goal is to collect the funds by June 2010, so the project could be completed by Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2010.
Donations made to Placer County JACL for this commemorative bronze sculpture are tax-deductible. For more information visit www.placerjacl.org.