Dear President Nikias,
As an alumnus of USC (BFA magna cum laude and MFA), I am pleased that USC is following the many California universities, colleges and high schools in conferring honorary degrees to American of Japanese ancestry students enrolled in their institutions who were forced into internment camps or to leave the Western Defense Command during the early phases of World War II.
It is understandable that many people of stature and ordinary citizens were caught up in the hysteria, propaganda and misinformation about us Japanese Americans, in that we were all tarnished with same brush as with the real enemies, the Empire of Japan. You are probably aware that not one American of Japanese ancestry was ever charged and convicted of an act or acts of sabotage or treason in the continental United States or its territories before or during WWII.
I was personally incarcerated and place in internment camps in Tulare, Calif. and later in the Gila River internment camp in Arizona. With my family in the internment camp, I reported for active duty in the Army of the U.S. and served in the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team in southern France and northern Italy.
I and many Nisei veterans were invited by Congress of the U.S.A. to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in November of 2011. I and 40 veterans were also pinned with the Bronze Star Medal by Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. Raymond Ordierno. Many deserving veterans had passed away and were proudly represented by their next of kin.
It is in the above context that I appeal to you and the powers that be at our university, that you also honor the former students at USC who have passed away by having their next of kin or other representative receive honorary degrees from USC.
Yoshio C. Nakamura