‘Portraits of Courage’ to Celebrate JA WWII Vets

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Exhibit to feature images by noted photographer Shane Sato.

Hit Ohara

Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) has announced the launching of “Portraits of Courage: Photographs by Shane Sato,” an exhibition featuring intimate color and black-and-white portraits of Japanese American veterans of World War II.

The emotive images capture the essence and character of Nisei soldiers, and reflect each veteran’s story of commitment, duty and patriotism.

The exhibit will be on display from May 3 to June 10 on the first floor of the historic Nishi Hongwanji building on the plaza adjacent to GFBNEC’s offices at 355 E. First St. (at Central) in Little Tokyo.

Toe Yoshino

“Portraits of Courage” will be free of charge during regular hours of GFBNEC’s permanent “Defining Courage” exhibition. Operating hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 12 to 8 p.m.; and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Monday.

The exhibit highlights images from Sato’s 2017 book “The Go For Broke Spirit,” which includes portraits, personal snapshots and biographies of more than 80 Nisei veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service. Many of them joined the military from Hawaii, then a territory, or from U.S. incarceration camps on the mainland, where their families remained imprisoned. The renowned 100th/442nd remains the most highly decorated military unit in U.S. history for its size and length of service.

Sato, a Los Angeles-based professional photographer, devoted more than 18 years to the Nisei veterans’ project, initially creating a series of black-and-white portraits and later expanding to color images of Nisei veterans in vintage military uniforms. Working with oral historian Robert Horsting, Sato captured the individual veterans’ personal stories and pictures in “The Go For Broke Spirit.” Sato and Horsting continue their work on a second volume of “The Go For Broke Spirit” that will include more portraits of Nisei veterans from across the country.

Barney Hajiro

Sato said he felt driven to immortalize the Nisei veterans’ legacy through his photography. “These men fought the battle for freedom and equality, risking the ultimate sacrifice for a better future for me and future generations. This is not just Japanese American history — it is American history.”

He added. “The Go For Broke National Education Center’s vision to bring my artistic portraits to life, and help share the stories of the Nisei, is truly incredible. I never dreamed that the portraits will be able to be presented in such a meaningful way along with the story and the history of the Japanese Americans. I hope that you will be inspired by the portraits, and then be interested to learn more about this history in the museum gallery located just upstairs.”

“Shane Sato’s ‘Portraits of Courage’ is a rare artistic tribute to the Nisei soldiers of World War II,” said Mitchell T. Maki, Ph.D., president and CEO of GFBNEC. “Each image tells a unique then-and-now story of a young Japanese American man caught up in the hysteria following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. These deeply personal stories of young Americans determined to prove their loyalty to the U.S. will educate and inspire viewers of all ages.”

For more information, including upcoming locations and dates for “Portraits of Courage,” visit: http://goforbroke.org/visit/exhibit/revolving_exhibits.php

GFBNEC can also be reached at (310) 328-0907.

George Morihiro

Photos by SHANE SATO

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