In November of 2011, I accompanied my parents, all three of my sisters, kids and many other family members to the national Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony in Washington D.C. It was a thoroughly amazing trip, yet the event was bitter-sweet. Sweet because of the many Nisei soldiers who were able to participate in the ceremony – yet bitter because of the many more that were no longer around to celebrate this momentous occasion.
During one of the parties honoring these Nisei Veterans, I met a U.S. Representative from Hawaii named Mazie Hirono. When I saw her again a few years later, she had run for the Senate and won – becoming the first Asian American female Senator in the over 220-year history of the U.S. Senate – representing the State of Hawaii.
Since then, I’ve gotten to know Mazie and her husband Leighton as very down home and good people, who care about their Community and their Country.
Anyways, connecting with my column last month - I last spoke with Senator Hirono a few months ago and she talked about introducing a bill in Congress to combat the rising tide of hate crimes against Asian Americans across the country.
This bill, introduced along with Rep. Grace Meng of NY, is called the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. According to these leaders, “2020 saw a 1,900% increase in violence against Asian Americans nation-wide, with nearly one in three reported being verbally assaulted with racial slurs since the start of the pandemic.
"At a time when the AAPI community is under siege, this bill is an important signal that Congress is taking anti-Asian racism and hatred seriously," said Hirono. So, I have endorsed this bill in support of Mazie and Grace’s legislation.
Closer to home, the next NVC Foundation Board and Membership meetings will be held on April 30 and the meeting for May will be on May 28, 2020. Please note these dates on your calendar, and we look forward to your participation.
Have you been feeling something like spring fever mixed with COVID fatigue lately? In the many Zoom and other virtual meetings every week, it’s getting more difficult to remain focused. So, I am hoping that by June, we will be able to have our meetings in person at the NVC Hall. Of course, health and safety will need to be secured before this happens.
When in-person meetings are resumed, our technical guru Dale Watanabe has proposed a video system that will allow members to attend our meetings on a virtual basis if they are not able to be there in person. Dale will discuss this new system at our next meeting, so that the Board may consider the near-term implementation of this technology.
The Jerseys are in! Prior to the pandemic, a number of groups used the NVC Hall to play basketball. A couple of Yonsei players wanted to add a bit more meaning and tribute to the long history of sports at the NVC, so Lane Shigihara and Justin Takeuchi produced some nice jerseys with the NVC Foundation logo proudly displayed. The jerseys look great and remind us of the central role our Memorial Hall plays in the fabric of our Community.
Finally, the NVC Foundation would like to welcome Mike Yaguchi as the new Commander of the NVC. Mike has established a very distinguished career as a Lt. Col. in the United States Air Force and as a director at both the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. As a native of Seattle and a member of the large Matsudaira family, Mike is back home, and the Foundation looks forward to working with him.