New Hiroshi H. Miyamura High School Dedicated in New Mexico

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From left, Laura Shigemitsu of the 100th/442nd Association, Hershey Miyamura and Susan Uyemura of CEO of JA Living Legacy.

Hiroshi H. Miyamura High School, formerly Gallup Junior High School, hosted fellow Japanese American veterans, friends and family of Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura over the recent Labor Day weekend in Gallup, New Mexico. Many people from all around the country traveled to Gallup to participate in the event and celebrate a man who was presented with a Congressional Medal of Honor in 1953 by then President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The weekend’s festivities included a Miyamura family dinner hosted by State Senator George Munoz and his family, a community dedication program at the high school, and an evening barbeque hosted by Comfort Suites Inn and Hershey and Terry Miyamura.

Gallup Junior High School formerly served 7th and 8th graders but in 2007, the citizens of Gallup voted to officially change the name of the school to Hiroshi H. Miyamura High School. The school underwent a two-year massive renovation and reconstruction and is now home to 9th through 12th graders. Although the school is not fully completed, students are already attending classes. June 2011 will introduce the school’s first graduating class.

A statue of Miyamura depicts him with his Medal of Honor. (Photo courtesy of CARI YASUNO)

The weekend’s special guests included fellow Korean War veteran Tom Tanaka from Hawaii, who flew to Los Angeles where he and his daughter Tracey then drove to Gallup to attend the dedication. Others, like Air Force Korean War veterans Frank Kadota and Mac Nakamura took an overnight train to attend. Best friend and fellow ex-POW Joseph Anello and his wife Joan drove from Colorado. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge and Ranger Hall of Fame Vincent H. Okamoto also came to celebrate with the Miyamura family.

Over 50 Japanese American Korean War veterans came from out of state while even more friends came in from local cities such as Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Saturday’s lunch was hosted at the famous El Rancho Hotel currently undergoing a $2 million renovation.

Hershey welcomed an auditorium filled with family and friends during Saturday’s dedication ceremony. The mayor of Gallup, state senators and local school officials briefly spoke and presented the Miyamura family with plaques, certificates and proclamations.

The school hosted the ceremony in their “practice” gym that could only hold 300 people. Principal Frank Chiapetti explained that their new gym, currently finishing construction, will hold the entire student body but will not be completed for another few months. Another ceremony will be conducted upon the gym’s completion so that faculty, staff, students and local community members can meet Hershey. The Labor Day ceremony was specifically planned for Hershey, his family, fellow veterans and his closest friends.

JA Living Legacy contacted the Hershey Company about this event and together they contributed 50 pounds of chocolate to the celebration. Some of the folks went shopping at Perry Nulls Trading Post for some authentic handmade Navajo and Zuni creations in between the weekend events. Festivities closed on Saturday night with a barbeque hosted by Hershey and Terry Miyamura and the Comfort Suites Hotel.

For more information and instructions on how to purchase official Miyamura Patriot attire, visit their website: http://hmh.gmcs.k12.nm.us or call them at (505) 721-1900.

Japanese American Living Legacy is a California nonprofit (501.c.3) organization based out of California State University, Fullerton. All of the board of directors, staff and advisors are volunteers. For information on JALiving Legacy/Nikkei Writers Guild, visit www.jalivinglegacy.org or call them at (657) 278-4483.

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