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ESSAY: Matthew Lee

by Matthew Lee
May 2020, Volume 70, Issue 5

[Editor’s Note:  Matthew Lee is a recipient of a NVCF Shiro Kashino Memorial Scholarships. He is the son of Dianne and David Lee and is the cousin of Danielle Higa. He attended Kentwood High School and is currently at Arizona State University.]

“The Mission of the Nisei Veterans Legacy is to preserve, perpetuate and share the legacy of Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) who served in the U.S. armed forces in World War II.” The way I read this, it is to accept and share appreciation for what others of our own ancestry have contributed and allowed for not only myself, but family and friends as well. The AJA who served in WWII were men of honor, valor, and courage; they allowed a better life for those around them and future generations. Similarly, I have a major interest in biomedical research and medicine. Often times I ask myself “Why? What is my purpose? Why am I choosing to do this?” And often times, it comes down to the desire to help others, give to others of less fortune a life where they have opportunity. To me, the Nisei Veterans’ legacy means the recognition and appreciation of opportunity, something these veterans have bestowed upon me.

Shigeo Yoshida said, “How we get along during the war will determine how we will get along when the war is over.” This sentence tells me that the AJA serving were forward thinkers; they thought not only about the present, the now, but also thought about how what they were doing would have a lasting impact. Because of their forward thinking, the Nisei Veterans Legacy deserves to be continuously propelled forward as we preserve their history. We can do this by continuing to share their stories, and how they had an impact for the social, economic, and political state of not just Asian Americans but America as a whole.

The Nisei Veterans Legacy is about honor, family, appreciation, and remembrance. To those who sacrificed, compromised, and gave their lives despite ill-treatment, we must remember their stories, so their contributions do not go without value. The contributions made by those before me allow me to make contributions to those after me. The Nisei Veterans Legacy motivates me to produce opportunities for future generations, just as previous generations have presented me with a life full of opportunity.