VOX POPULI: Harry Kanada — a Soldier and a Dancer

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Harry Kanada performs the rumba with Sheila Sloan at his 13th anniversary dance on April 10, 1982 at the Proud Bird Restaurant.

Harry Kanada performs the rumba with Sheila Sloan at his 13th anniversary dance on April 10, 1982 at the Proud Bird Restaurant.

By JOHN MATSUDA

Harry Haruo Kanada, 95, staff sergeant in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, K Company, along with 10 other Nisei veterans, received the French Legion of Honor medal at the Go For Broke Monument next to the Japanese American National Museum on Nov. 9.

A combat veteran injured in the battle rescuing the Lost Texas Battalion, surrounded by the Germans, in the fall of 1944 in France, Harry had previously received the Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Medal, EAME Campaign Medal and Congressional Gold Medal. The French government bestowed upon the 11 Nisei 442nd RCT veterans the National Order of Legion of Honor, the highest honor France bestows on its citizens and foreign nationals.

Harry H. Kanada was born on Jan. 14, 1918 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His parents from Hiroshima were Ichita and Kazuyo Morimoto Kanada. His sister Clara Kazue, brothers James Yoshitaka and Henry Shiro have passed away. His younger brother Richard Yoshitaka, twin brother to James, is living in Honolulu.

Harry Kanada

Harry Kanada

Harry K, as we fondly call him, has been a ballroom dance instructor in Hawaii, for years following World War II, and in Southern California since 1969. He organized a dance club called the Danceros and taught us the International Style standard dances, like the waltz, slow fox trot, tango and quick step, as well the many Latin dances, like the rumba, mambo, samba, cha-cha, merengue, jive, and also the popular West Coast swing.

He taught diligently and patiently, in the group and private lessons, the guys with “two left feet” and the gals that were usually better than their husbands or boyfriends. He choreographed special dance routines for his annual Haru-no-Odori or the Anniversary Dances at places like the Universal Sheraton Hotel, Miramar Hotel and the Proud Bird Restaurant located next to LAX.

He continued to polish his own dance skills by taking lessons from the 1973 and 1974 U.S. champion, Sheila Sloan, and performed exhibition dances with Sheila at his Anniversary Dances.

After the annual Anniversary Dances, we used to go up to his beautiful home in Hollywood Hills and feast on the maguro and mirugai (clam) sashimi that the late Hide Wakahara and Fred Shibukawa used to slice, and have a ball until the wee hours of the morning. Those are the happy days that I will always remember and cherish as long as I live.

Harry K is still healthy and drives by himself to L.A., Gardena and Las Vegas.

I congratulate Kanada Sensei for his receiving the French Legion of Honor kunsho award and wish him continued good health!

John Matsuda is a resident of Gardena and is one of Kanada’s many Danceros students.

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