The 74th Annual NVC Memorial Day Service was attended by approximately 175 NVC and NVCF members, elected officials, the Japanese Consulate, community leaders, religious leaders, and many friends and family members from the community. All gathered to respectfully honor the men and women of our Armed Services. Once again, we held a wonderful tribute to those who gave their lives for our country as we realize that many of the freedoms we have today as citizens of the United States of America are a result of those sacrifices.
A beautiful sun-filled morning broke over the grounds of Lake View Cemetery on Capitol Hill in Seattle as groundskeepers carefully prepared and manicured the lawn and meticulously set up the large tents to protect patrons from the potential elements of weather. Meanwhile, dedicated NVC Foundation set-up volunteers rose at the crack of dawn to arrange chairs to create a makeshift outdoor theater for the young and the old. The pathway leading to the Nisei War Memorial was lined with all of the colorful and uniquely prepared wreaths and floral arrangements, with each placed strategically to clearly identify the presenting organization.
One by one, the community representatives and honored guests arrived early and checked their cues and prepared for their short, yet highly symbolic walk. Those attending came from all over town as their cars were directed to park in an orderly fashion lining the narrow cemetery roads. Non-Nikkei guests who live within walking distance to the cemetery were scattered throughout the crowd. The speaker system volume was checked and rechecked so the elderly could hear, and the young could understand each carefully prepared word.
It was a time to reflect and appreciate the efforts of our immigrant ancestors who took risks and came to America to make a better life for themselves and their families. It was an opportunity to once again marvel and appreciate the Gosei, Yonsei, Sansei, and the Nisei generations, alongside our many guests who had come together as a community family on Memorial Day.
Emcee Colleen Fukui-Sketchley, a Yonsei, masterfully prepared her notes and took time to slowly rehearse and articulate each participating organization and the names of each representative, exemplifying humility and professional poise. All was ready for the 10:00 A.M. ceremony. Young Boy Scouts from Troop 252 of the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple uniformly marched and presented the colors as veterans proudly saluted the American Flag. Led by NVC Member Princess Hall, the audience recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem.
Colleen warmly welcomed the large audience to the service, gave a brief history of the Nisei War Memorial Monument and recognized the following honored guests: Japanese Consul General The Honorable Yoichiro Yamada; Glenn Carpenter, Staff member to U.S. Congressman Adam Smith; State Senator Bob Hasegawa; State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos; King County Superior Court Judge Patrick Oishi; Guest Speaker Command Sergeant Major Joshua T. Mason, Headquarters 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, and the entire audience who came to this annual event.
Pastor Charlie Shin, Chaplain, Providence Elder Place, King County Church led the Invocation, followed with Meditations provided by Rev. Don Castro, of the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, Rev. Taijo Imanaka of the Seattle Koyasan Buddhist Temple, and Rev. Ekou Murakami of the Seattle Nichiren Buddhist Church. NVC Chaplain Rev. Kerry Kaino of the Japanese Presbyterian Church provided the Christian Meditation and Rev. Edmund Harris, Rector, St. Peters Episcopal Church provided the Benediction.
NVC Commander Walt Tanimoto and NVC Foundation President Warren Higa welcomed and thanked everyone in attendance and provided speeches of honor and remembrance, paying tribute to those who have passed.
It was a historical service as the keynote address was given by Command Sergeant Major Joshua T. Mason, Headquarters 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, who traveled from Honolulu, HI to participate in this year’s service indicating his honor to address the veterans who served, as well as the families and community of the Nisei Veterans. CSM Mason indicated that all of the 600+ men and women under his command of the 100th Battalion, 442n Infantry Regiment are provided a week long educational course on their battalion and they are given the history of this highly decorated unit and the many battles they encountered. They fully understand the origin of the “Go For Broke” spirit.
The following organizations/representatives presented wreaths and floral bouquets to the Nisei War Memorial:
- Representing the Gold Star Families / The Yamane Family
- Presenting in Memory of SP4 Mark Yamane, Alpha Co. 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Infantry
- Japanese Consulate / Consul General of Japan Yoichiro Yamada
- Japan-America Society of WA State / Executive Director Dale Watanabe and Board Member Takeo Sato
- Federation of Buddhist Churches of Seattle / Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, Gary Kato; Seattle Koyasan Buddhist Temple, Dr. Jonathan Bannister; and Seattle Nichiren Church, E. Mary Kawaguchi
- Japanese American Citizens League / 1st Vice President Tsuki Nomura-Henley and Glen Carpenter, Staff Member to Congressman Adam Smith
- Japanese Community Service / Co-Presidents Tsuchino Forrester & Mas Tahara
- Japanese Cultural and Community Center of WA / Board President Kurt Tokita
- Nikkei Concerns / Development Manager John Descher
- University of Washington Nikkei Alumni Association/SYNKOA / Secretary Kanako Kashima
- Seattle Dojo / Sensei Alan Yamada
- American Legion Cathay Post 186 / Frank Gregory, Jackson Chan, Lip Mar, and Terry Nicholas
- Military Intelligence Service (MIS) Northwest / COL Stanley Seo, Intelligence Officer, Army National Guard
- Nisei Veterans Committee and NVC Foundation / Commander Walt Tanimoto and President Warren Higa
As Taps were played, the echo of the bugles could be heard over the hush of the audience and the innocence of the chirping of birds.
Boy Scout Troop 252, Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple retired the colors and another successful Memorial Day program had concluded. Our heroes will not be forgotten.
Many families and friends could be seen talking, taking pictures, and enjoying the opportunity to get together well after the conclusion of the event.
Seattle Times photographer Alan Berner attended the service and photos from our NVC Memorial Day Service were featured on the Seattle Times Website: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/seattle-memorial-day-ceremony-honors-nisei-veterans-who-gave-their-lives-for-their-country/
A sincere thanks to all the many volunteers who made the 74th Annual NVC / NVCF Memorial Day Service a complete success:
CSM Joshua T. Mason
George Nemeth Jr. and Staff
Mark and Kai Hidaka
Boy Scout Troop 252
Scout Master Gary Kato
Assistant Scout Master John Hamakami
Rev. Don Castro
Rev. Taijo Imanaka
Rev. Ekou Murakami
Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple
Pastor Kerry Kaino
Pastor Charlie Shin
NVC Foundation Members
-Plus all the many unnamed veterans and volunteers for their contributions.
A special shout out to U. S. Air Force Veteran Kevin MacCulley, AVR Productions, Edmonds, WA who donated his audio equipment and professional services to the NVC on short notice. Thank you, Kevin!!!