Groundbreaking for MIS Learning Center

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Participants in a Memorial Day program held outside Building 640 at the Presidio of San Francisco. (Photo by Cynthia Inouye)

SAN FRANCISCO — A ground-breaking ceremony for the MIS (Military Intelligence Service) Historic Learning Center will be held on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 640 Mason St. (near Sports Basement) in the Presidio of San Francisco.

On the eve of war with Japan in November 1941, the U.S. Army secretly recruited enlisted Nisei soldiers and trained them as military linguists for the coming war. The first language school was set up in Building 640 at the Presidio. Due to the removal of all Japanese Americans from the West Coast in 1942, the school was later moved to Minnesota.

Attached to every combat unit in the Pacific War, the MIS soldier linguists translated documents, intercepted intelligence, impersonated the enemy in battle, gathered key intelligence from prisoners of war, and ultimately helped American and Allied forces win the war. After the war, MIS soldiers help effect a peaceful transition during the occupation of Japan. As grassroots ambassadors, they helped lay the groundwork for Japan’s democracy.

The MIS Historic Learning Center will feature exhibits and ongoing public programs devoted to this experience.

The ceremony will include:

– Posting of the colors by the U.S. Army Reserves

– Greetings from Consul General of Japan Hiroshi Inomata

– Updates on the center’s inaugural donor wall and the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in Washington, D.C.

– Keynote speech by Col. Thomas Sakamoto (retired), a member of the MIS Language School’s first class

– Purification ceremony conducted by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu of Konko Church of San Francisco

– Taiko by Melody Takata of Genryu Arts

Attendees are asked to bring their own blankets for a picnic at Crissy Field.

Co-sponsored by the Presidio Trust and the National Japanese American Historical Society.

For more information, call (415) 921-5007, email [email protected] or visit www.njahs.org.

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