Go For Broke Exhibit Highlights JA Women in Military

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Women’s Army Corps (WAC) detachment at Ft. Snelling, Minn., in December 1944. (Photo courtesy Sue Kato)

Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) has announced a new exhibition, “Called to Serve: Japanese American Women in the U.S. Military During WWII,” which will be on display from July 19 to Oct. 13.

“Called to Serve” tells the little-known story of courageous Japanese American women who volunteered during World War II despite the government’s incarceration of approximately 110,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom were American citizens.

Approximately 500 young Japanese American women served in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), Cadet Nurse Corps, and Army Nurse Corps (ANC) as nurses, translators, medical technicians, clerks and more. These women joined the military from concentration camps, Hawaii, and throughout the country to prove their loyalty to their nation.

“Called to Serve” will feature photos from noted Japanese American photographer Toyo Miyatake; oral histories from GFBNEC’s Hanashi Oral History Program; and a scrapbook detailing Sue Ogata Kato’s experience in the Women’s Army Corps.

“Few Americans — even Japanese Americans — know the story of the hundreds of young Nisei women who volunteered to serve their country during WWII,” Mitchell T. Maki, GFBNEC’s president and chief executive officer, said. “These brave women faced enormous obstacles to their service. Some had brothers already in the military; others were imprisoned with their families in mainland incarceration camps. Many endured strong disapproval from family and friends for volunteering, which was contrary to cultural and gender norms at the time.

“The Nisei women veterans’ groundbreaking service still resonates today as our society continues to debate issues of gender, ethnicity, equality and patriotism.”

“Called to Serve” will be held in the Japanese American National Museum Historic Lobby, located in the historic Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple on the west side of the plaza at First Street and Central Avenue in Little Tokyo. The exhibit is free of charge with admission to GFBNEC’s “Defining Courage” exhibition, which is pay-what-you-wish. Both “Called to Serve” and free admission to “Defining Courage” for students and teachers are courtesy of a generous grant from the Aratani Foundation.

Operating hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Monday.

Also on view through Aug. 25: “Fire for Effect: Journey of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion.”

For more information, call (310) 328-0907 or visit www.goforbroke.org.

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