Nisei veterans who volunteer at the Go For Broke Monument in Little Tokyo do more than make visits more interesting for students, tourists and passersby. Their presence serves as a real life reminder that every single one of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 232nd Combat Engineer Company, 1399th Engineering Construction Battalion, Military Intelligence Service and other Japanese American soldiers who were sent overseas during World War II were living, breathing human beings with hopes, dreams, families and loved ones who fought and sacrificed for a nation that they believed in at a time when the nation discriminated against them and turned its back on their families and loved ones.
Nisei or second-generation Japanese American veterans of World War II began volunteering to serve as docents at the Go For Broke Monument when the Go For Broke National Education Center unveiled it in 1999.
These men and often, their daughters, sons, grandchildren, wives and widows, make a special effort to be on hand at the Go For Broke Monument on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to share the Nisei soldiers’ story, help find names in the data base and on the Monument, and provide other assistance. Among the Go For Broke Monument docents are 100th veteran Toke Yoshihashi; 442nd veterans Don Seki, Toe Yoshino and Hiro Nishikubo; honorary 442nd H Company member Duke Ogawa, and MIS veterans George Fujimori and Ken Akune.
The Go For Broke Monument was built by veterans of the 100th, 442nd and MIS to signify the Japanese American World War II soldiers’ sacrifices and values that helped ensure rights and freedoms all Americans enjoy today. It’s located at 160 N. Central Avenue in the Little Tokyo area of Los Angeles, west of the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and north of the Japanese American National Museum.
Designed as a bold 40-ft. black granite circle, the landmark rises to a peak of nine feet on one side and slopes to grade level on the other. The curving wall on the peaked side is engraved with names of 16,131 Japanese American soldiers and their officers, including 37 Japanese American women, who served overseas during World War II. Inscribed stars designate those killed in action and 60 colorful organizational patches line the upper edge the wall to identify the various units the 100th, 442nd, MIS and other Japanese American soldiers were attached and assigned to during World War II. Five larger-than-life medallions form a line across the highest point of the round sloping monument’s flat face.
A moving inscription near the center of the face tells the story of the 100th, 442nd, 522nd, 232nd, 1399th and MIS, and a granite replica of the 442nd shoulder patch, derived from the Statue of Liberty, holds the American Flag as a symbol of remembrance for those who died in battle. The surrounding plaza is paved with natural stone and a free-standing kiosk houses a simple, user-friendly name locator. Pillars flanking the monument acknowledge contributors, supporters and Medal of Honor recipients.
Additional information about the monument is available on the GFBNEC website at goforbroke.org.