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ESSAY: Evan Kato

by Evan Kato
April 2021, Volume 71, Issue 4

NVCF Shiro Kashino Memorial Scholarship Recipient

[NOTE: Evan Kato is the son of Madeline and Gary Kato.  He attends Seattle Lutheran High School and has a 3.8 g.p.a.  He hopes to attend Gonzaga University and study Biology.]

Both of my grandfathers were veterans, and although I didn’t get to spend much time with them, I still want to embody their honor and courage while also becoming an advocate for their vast history. It’s vital that I become more informed about their lives and the time they used to live in. The concept of honor and dignity surrounding military service is very inspirational, however, the rich culture and history surrounding Japanese American soldiers deserve another level of respect. The Nisei Veterans’ Legacy means honoring my relatives and the people who made sacrifices for this country.

Both of my grandpas are Nisei Veterans, one even being up on your NVC Memorial Wall. Although I never spent much time with them, I learned much of their history through my schooling. Nevertheless, the numerous books assigned in AP U.S. History cannot begin to depict the entirety of my relatives’ experiences and the fullness of their honor. That's why their legacy as Nisei Veterans is so essential. Future generations need to know the traditions and legacies of our heroes.

My grandpa on my mom's side served in the Air Force from 1951-1954. Throughout my elementary school years, I did get to spend a fair amount of time with him, but as you can imagine, I never focused on his past or American history. It took me a decade to realize how important he was, not only to me but to my family. Reflecting on his life has made me look at everything differently and has revealed a contrast between his life and the information I learned growing up.

I also feel the need to give back to all the Nisei Veterans, as each time I visit the historic NVC Hall, I learn of all the outstanding acts and accomplishments these soldiers have achieved. As your motto states, “honoring the past” and “educating the future” are the only ways I feel I can give back and preserve the legacy of all the veterans who have given so much for this country. The Nisei Veterans’ Legacy to me means the impact of the veterans, whether it was with their actions or with sacrifice. It’s sad to me when the Japanese American history unit is so short as the period illustrates gruesome events and portrays accomplished heroes, many of whom go unrecognized.

Although I never got to sit down and talk with my grandpas, I learned of great heroism and courage through their surviving relatives. Their legacy has made me take pride in being a yonsei and stand up for what I believe, as that is what they excelled in.