By GWEN MURANAKA
RAFU ENGLISH EDITOR
More than 100 attended the 11th anniversary of the Go For Broke Monument in Little Tokyo as the Japanese American veterans organization looked forward with new leadership at the helm.
Michael Ozawa, newly elected chair of the Board of the Go For Broke National Education Center, in his first public remarks thanked outgoing executive director Christine Sato-Yamazaki. Ozawa is senior managing director of corporate financing at FTI Consulting, a global business advisory firm.
“I extend a heartfelt thank you to Christine Sato Yamazaki. Thank you Christine for all you have done to make the organization what it is today, we’ve been fortunate to have someone who cares as much as you,” said Ozawa. “A nationwide search has commenced to find the right individual who will continue to move the organization forward. It will be a challenge but I am confident that we will find the right person.”
Serving as emcee was Los Angeles police deputy chief Terry Hara, who is also a GFBNEC board member. Dignitaries in attendance included, Assemblymember Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles), Warren Furutani (D-South Los Angeles), City Controller Wendy Greuel, Supervisor Mike Antonovich, Councilmember Jan Perry, Manhattan Beach Police Chief Rod Uyeda and former Assemblymember George Nakano.
Perry, who gave the keynote address, said she had heard of the heroism of the Japanese American soldiers from her uncle, who was a member of the 92nd Infantry Division, an all African American unit which saw combat in Europe.
“It was because of the stories he told me that he wanted to keep alive. That’s why I feel so
devoted and grateful. What inspires me more than that is what you do for all of us now with such energy and enthusiasm to get the education center built and I look forward to the day when we break ground,” said Perry.
DeLeon, whose district includes Chinatown, said that the story of the Nisei veterans was a universal story.
“The fact that the 100th, 442nd, 522nd as well as 1399th, 232nd and MIS unit will always live forever in the history not just of Japanese Americans. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re Latino, African American, or white. You will live in the history of all Americans,” said DeLeon.
Corinne Akahoshi presented the Go For Broke Award to John Wakamatsu, president of the 100th/442nd Veterans Association, and Hitoshi Sameshima, president of the Military Intelligence Service Club of Southern California for their support of the monument.
Floral tributes were also made by veterans and their families on behalf of each of the military units at the monument which is inscribed with all the names of Japanese Americans who served during World War II.
Following the service, Ozawa said Go For Broke is moving forward with plans, including the Evening of Aloha gala which will be held on Nov. 13 with chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Akira Hirose.
“We’ve had a lot of support in the last few months. It seems like more and more people are coming out. And we’re doing a better job of reaching out to people. There is a lot of positive momentum,” said Ozawa.