HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The story of how a stamp honoring Nisei soldiers finally came to be is the tale of a long struggle.
“We really had to push for this. The Postal Service for many years did not want it. We knew better,” said Wayne Osako, co-chair of the group Stamp Our Story,
In 2005, three women ― two of them the wives of Nisei veterans ― started a campaign to convince the U.S. Postal Service to honor Japanese-Americans who served in the U.S. military during World War II.
“Their names are Fusa Takahashi, Aiko King and the late Chiz Ohira,” Osako said.
Osako is a descendant of Nisei veterans. He joined the trio’s effort in 2006. He helped the women petition presidents, the postmaster general and people in high places.
Their persistence paid off.
“When Hawaii lawmakers found out about it, they were basically the lead force in really getting our nationwide support,” Osako said.
Last week the Postal Service announced it would release the “Go For Broke Soldiers” commemorative stamp.
“The great Hawaii connection to the stamp is that the image on the stamp is of a Hawaii Nisei soldier. His name is Shiroku ‘Whitey’ Yamamoto,” said Lynn Heirakuji, president of the Nisei Veterans Legacy.
Yamamoto was born on the Big Island and served with the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Later in life, he volunteered at the Hawaii Army Museum.
“Many people got to learn about the Nisei soldiers through Whitey,” Osako said.
The USPS will officially issue the stamp on June 3, but it will be available for purchase before then on the postal service website.
Hawaii organizations will have an event to mark the release on June 4.
“We are very mindful of COVID concerns, and so decided not to hold a public event, but to have a press conference that we plan to have live-streamed and recorded so that the public can participate,” Heirakuji said.
Yamamoto passed away a few years ago. The stamp modeled after his photograph is a tribute to all Nisei veterans.
“This is meant to be a symbol for all of the Nisei men and women who served during the war,” Osako said.
Heirakuji said the stamp’s release is a testament to the efforts of Osako and the three women who refused to give up.
“It’s my hope that this little stamp can serve as affirmation that positive, peaceful change is possible when people work together with this ganbari spirit,” she said.