Last month, the 75th Annual Installation Banquet was canceled for the first time in the history of this event.
Some things you take for granted until they are gone. When I first started going to this event, I didn’t pay much attention to the program. I went for the socializing, food, drink, and, of course, to hear the off-color jokes by Bill Nishimura. Bill achieved iconic status in that role, so when he stepped down, Bob Kiga had the courage to take over that impossible job and has become an icon himself for the last few decades, jokes and all!
However, the primary business function of the Installation Banquet is to thank the outgoing Officers and Board Members for their service and to swear in the new ones. So, I’d like to commend the outgoing officials for their hard work, especially this past year, and to give a big welcome to the new Board. Well, maybe we will be sworn in sooner or later.
I have been an active member of this organization, on and off, since the Seattle Sansei days. Before that, there were the Christmas parties, bazaars, picnics, basketball, and other fun things to do. Many good memories growing up around here.
This organization was established by the Nisei Veterans, who returned back to Seattle after WWII. Despite their heroic exploits fighting for our country, they were not accepted by the mainstream veterans organizations at that time, so they pioneered their own group called the Nisei Veterans Committee.
Can you imagine all of the issues they faced? Many of their brothers in arms were killed or wounded. Their families were facing resettlement after the incarceration, starting over after losing all property and possessions. And for themselves, they needed to establish careers and employment in a discriminatory atmosphere.
The greatness to overcome this adversity and the character developed in the process, are the heart and soul of this organization. It is honoring their Legacy that sustains this organization today.
Currently, we have the NVC and the NVC Foundation. Both organizations are dedicated to honoring this Legacy of the Nisei Veterans, as well as serving our Community. This twin organizational model has resulted in confusion among our members, our donors, and outside organizations. I am the incoming President of the NVC Foundation, and even I am not clear about where the differences lie.
Of course, there is always the legal explanation that the NVC is a 501(C19) and the Foundation is a 501 (C3), which explains their non-profit tax structure. That the NVC Foundation was formed to help jointly raise funds for our major capital projects and there are separate assets and liabilities associated with each organization. There are also separate Officers and Boards for each, requiring separate but coordinated meetings.
Yet operationally, where it counts, both organizations work closely together for ALL of the activities that each one sponsors. Virtually everything we do can only be accomplished with the coordinated efforts of both organizations. We are highly inter-dependent on each other, so operationally we carry on as one organization.
Therefore, it makes sense to consider the consolidation of both groups into a single, unified organization. Consolidating the NVC military and veteran components, along with the Foundation educational and intergenerational components, will result in a combined organizational structure that is diverse and has the best chance to thrive and survive.
Since the Nisei established this organization, the generations working together have accomplished so much to be proud of. Let’s not take any of it for granted by losing sight of how we got here, or we may find that our fragile, separated organizations simply disappear.
In his column, Commander Tanimoto will discuss the investigation by the Attorney General, which is now concluded and closed with no findings of improper activity. I give this only a brief mention because our focus should now be on moving forward with important business. However major thanks to Geri Lynne Egeler for collecting and organizing the requested documentation for submittal to the State for this effort.
As a Sansei, I am approaching the age where our Nisei parents handed over the reins to our generation. So, I am pleased to recognize Danielle Higa as our 1st Vice President and Geri Lynne Egeler as our 2nd Vice President. Both are yonsei and much more capable than me to lead this organization into the future.
Finally, huge thanks to our outgoing President, Warren Higa, who lead the Foundation through the past three years. He established new systems for the Foundation and developed close working relationships with the NVC. He set us up for success in this upcoming year. Talk to you next month.