Nisei World War II veterans remember fallen comrades

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

NATIONAL MEMORIAL CEMETERY OF THE PACIFIC (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nisei veterans of the 100th Battalion, the 442nd Infantry Regimental team and the Military Intelligence Service gathered for one last time Sunday to remember their comrades who gave their lives in battle and those who have passed on.

The World War II veterans made the journey to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl for a memorial ceremony in honor of their fellow soldiers. The legendary Nisei units were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal last month, and that included members who gave their lives in battle.

The ceremony's keynote speaker, retired Lt. Gen. Joseph Peterson, noted a twist in the familiar phrase, "land of the free and home of the brave."

"It read, 'land of the free because of the brave,'" said Peterson, a Hawaii native. "This clearly defines the greatest generation. And at the top of that list of our World War II Nisei veterans."

The veterans stood proud and silent, and remained even with the heavens opened and it began to rain.

"We refer to them as 'dad,' 'uncle,' or 'grandfather," Peterson told the crowd. "Because of their nature, humility and culture, seldom did they ever mention anything of their exploits or achievements in war."

This is the last ceremony in a weekend that has already included a Waikiki parade and a luncheon, commemorating the three units for receiving the gold medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress. And it also may be the last time the veterans will gather this way, to watch as the nation honors their comrades and friends.

The ceremony included a 21-gun salute, and the playing of "Taps."

"Heroes. Patriots. Americans," said Peterson of the veterans. "Let us now proceed to honor and preserve their legacy."

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