As 2016 comes to a close, bipartisan lawmakers from Wyoming, Utah, Illinois, and California have rallied support for a commemorative stamp that would recall the inspiring story of Americans of Japanese heritage who served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
The recent endorsements are significant because they include two states that were home to the incarceration camps where Japanese Americans were held during the war.
Next year marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the incarceration of all Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. The postal honor would tell the story of this confinement, and recall the service and sacrifice of those who enlisted in the military to show their loyalty, despite the injustice.
The stamp proposal features the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II in Washington, D.C. Due to a U.S. Postal Service restriction on military units as subjects, the activists are pushing for the memorial to serve as a symbolic honor.
The congressional delegation from Wyoming, all Republicans, co-authored a letter of support on Nov. 16. “Next year marks the 75th anniversary of the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans held against their will for the duration of the war,” the delegation asserted. ”As you may know, Wyoming is home to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, where over 14,000 Japanese were forcibly relocated and held, approximately 800 of whom enlisted in the U.S. Army. Fifteen of these men were killed in action, and two earned the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor in combat.”
The delegation consists of Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and Rep. Cynthia Lummis.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, added his voice of support in a Dec. 1 letter. “I write to join with those voicing their support for a United States postage stamp to commemorate the bravery and patriotism of Japanese American citizens and soldiers in World War II,” the governor wrote. “During this period, internment camps spanned the western United States, including the Topaz camp near Delta, Utah, and served as physical manifestations of the profiling and racial prejudice that faced thousands of Japanese Americans. To challenge the adversity they faced in their nation, and exhibit their love for country, in excess of 33,000 Japanese Americans enlisted in the United States military.”
California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) announced this week that she, too, sent a letter to the postmaster general. “As our country reflects on next year’s 75th anniversary of placing individuals in internment camps, I encourage you to honor them by issuing a stamp in remembrance of the sacrifices that they made during World War II,” she wrote in her Oct. 5 letter. “I feel that this would be an appropriate tribute to honor their memory and hope you will consider issuing a stamp.”
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) joined the voices backing the stamp. “I am writing in support of issuing a commemorative postal stamp in honor of the bravery and patriotism demonstrated by Japanese Americans during the Second World War,” he explained. “In spite of having their most basic constitutional rights violated by unjust detainment, as well as facing rampant prejudice from the rest of society, over 30,000 Japanese Americans chose to serve as members of the U.S. Armed Forces.”
Nisei men and women served admirably during the war. Men served mainly in the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS). The 100th/442nd, considered the most decorated unit of the war, is remembered for such battles as Monte Cassino and Anzio, the rescue of the Lost Battalion, and liberating towns across France. They also helped liberate prisoners of the Holocaust in Dachau.
The MIS is credited with shortening the war in the Pacific by two years through their work as military linguists, and helping redevelop Japan during the occupation, leading to the close postwar friendship between the nations.
Japanese American women served in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and Cadet Nurse Corps. These groups collectively received the Congressional Gold Medal for their exemplary service in 2011.
Campaign activists are urging supporters to continue to urge lawmakers who have not yet endorsed this cause to help. The Stamp Our Story Campaign website is www.StampOurStory.org.
As of Dec. 22, 52 members of Congress (13 Republicans and 39 Democrats) and three governors (one Republican and two Democrats) have voiced support. The following is a list of supportive lawmakers so far.
The following is a list of supportive lawmakers so far.
Rep. Don Young (R-At Large). Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R) and Dan Sullivan (R)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Tuscon)
Reps. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), Julia Brownley (D-Oak Park), Ken Calvert (R-Corona), Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley), Susan Davis (D-San Diego), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), Anna Eshoo (D-Atherton), Sam Farr (D-Carmel), Mike Honda (D-San Jose), Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento), Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk), Scott Peters (D-La Jolla), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), Loretta Sanchez (D-Anaheim), Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), Mark Takano (D-Riverside), Mimi Walters (R-Irvine). Sens. Barbara Boxer (D) and Dianne Feinstein (D). Gov. Jerry Brown (D).
Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Honolulu), Mark Takai (deceased) (D-Honolulu). Sens. Mazie Hirono (D) and Brian Schatz (D). Gov. David Ige (D).
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Kensington)
Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas)
Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan), Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn)
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River). Sen. Ron Wyden (D)
Gov. Gary Herbert (R)
Reps. Denny Heck (D-Olympia), Derek Kilmer (D-Tacoma), Jim McDermott (D-Seattle), Adam Smith (D-Bellevue)
Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-At Large). Sens. Mike Enzi (R) and John Barrasso (R).