In recognition of the 80th anniversaries of President Franklin D. Roosevelt issuing Executive Order 9066 on February 19, and the opening of Manzanar in late March 1942, the National Park Service is hosting a Day of Remembrance virtual event and an on-site showing of part of photographer Shane Sato’s “Go For Broke Spirit” exhibit. The contemporary—and contemplative—photos feature Japanese American veterans of World War II, wearing military uniforms. The nine larger-than-life portraits are accompanied by short biographies about the men and small candid photos as they looked during World War II. “I want people to remember what they did when they had everything against them,” Sato said.
Manzanar Acting Superintendent Brenda Ling reflected, “The haunting images and accompanying essays are emotional and powerful. These veterans served their country with honor and distinction, while their families were incarcerated behind barbed wire. We thank Mr. Sato for sharing his work at Manzanar.”
Sato launched his “Go For Broke Spirit” project in 2000 and over the years has taken nearly 200 portraits of the veterans. “People could equate these men, in the twilight of their lives, to the vets who fought in World War II,” he observed. He collaborated with oral historian Robert Horsting to publish two coffee table books, The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage and The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Legacy, available for purchase from Manzanar’s non-profit partner Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association (ESIA). The visitor center bookstore is open from 11 am to 4 pm, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (closed Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday). The book also are available on ESIA’s website at the links above.
On February 18, at 2:00 pm, ESIA will host Manzanar’s Day of Remembrance event featuring Shane Sato and World War II veteran Yoshio “Yosh” Nakamura. Nakamura served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and length of service. In a 2016 interview, Nakamura reflected, “They were highly motivated and disciplined, and so they had a mission more than just taking care of the enemy . . . we were declared disloyal or enemy aliens . . . to prove our loyalty . . . we were just as good Americans as any others. That was an important thing.”
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Manzanar National Historic Site is located at 5001 Highway 395, six miles south of Independence and nine miles north of Lone Pine, California. Learn more on our web site at https://www.nps.gov/manz.
Photo caption: Yoshio Nakamura served in M Company, 3rd Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Portrait of Courage by Shane Sato.