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Memorial Day Remarks to Nisei Veterans

by Captain Ann Minami
May 2020, Volume 70, Issue 5

Thank you, Nisei Veterans Committee and Nisei Veterans Foundation, for the privilege to address the Nisei Veterans on this very special and historic 75th Anniversary of your Memorial Day ceremony.  Congratulations on an amazing and proud milestone!

To our Nisei Veterans:  This Memorial Day 2020, we are in another challenging time for our nation and our world.  We are not able to gather in a large group.  We can’t provide you with all the appropriate pageantry that would depict the magnitude of gratitude that we as a nation and community have for your service and sacrifice.

Of course, our nation is resilient, and the pomp and circumstance will return someday.  But for today at least, it was important for me to come to this special place, the Nisei War Memorial, where you have come for the last 75 years, to pause, drop anchor as we would say in the Navy, and pay tribute to our lost shipmates, and to honor you, our Nisei War Veterans.

I am Captain Ann Minami and I am a judge advocate in the United States Navy currently serving as the military judge in Bremerton.  I just went over 26 years on active duty. I am also a Nisei, just about one generation removed from you.

Like you, my parents came to United States from Japan, learned the language and made a life for themselves.

Like you, I grew up in the Seattle area, attending high school in Des Moines, and doing my undergrad at the University of Washington.

Like you, I decided to serve my country in the armed forces.  I joined the Navy in 1994 and had my first deployment onboard the aircraft carrier USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN.  It was about seven years into my active service, that 9/11 happened.

So, like you, when it became my generation’s turn to go to war, I deployed two more times to the middle east, once into the Persian Gulf onboard the aircraft carrier USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, and once at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.   

But, although I flatter myself trying to compare my path to yours, it is very clear to me that my way was made possible and smoother because of you, the Nisei veterans.

Because of you, and the communities that you built, I was able to grow up in a Seattle that had a rich and vibrant and respected Japanese American community.

Because of you, I felt proud when working in the Seattle Federal Courthouse and traveling through airports named in honor of Nisei veterans:  William Nakamura and Daniel Inouye.

Because of you and the legacy of the famed 442 and Military Intelligence Service, I strive to embody the same courage and purpose that you exemplified.

So for all of you, the Nisei Veterans that we remember and honor today, please know that those of us who serve in your shadow are inspired by you, know that we are grateful for your example, and please know that we go forward each day in service to our country in a way that continues to honor you.

From this kid from Seattle:  thank you for your service, for your sacrifice and for the incredible legacy you have left for all of us.