Author: Robert Taira, D Company
Puka Puka Parades, August 1947,vol. 2 no. 6
Robert Taira’s radio address to veterans about the sacrifice of war and to remember it in postwar stress. Robert Taira represented the Club 100 at the July 4th program in which several Vets groups participated.
I wish to direct my remarks this afternoon to those in the radio audience who are becoming weary of industrial strife, high prices, housing shortages, juvenile delinquency, and lack of job opportunities. I make no effort to minimize these problems. But I would like to inject a simple thought into your thinking, with the hope that you can I can assume a healthier approach toward our post-war difficulties.
Let me begin with a simple story. I am thinking today of a young Japanese-American boy whom I first knew some years ago on the island of Hawaii. We’ll call him Masa. Like thousands of other young men in the territory, Masa obtained a job upon graduation from high school. He worked hard, planning for the future.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Masa’s foremost thought was the defense of his home, his Hawaii, his America. But it was not until March, 1943, that he was able to enlist. Masa then became one of the 2,600 volunteers who were to achieve a brilliant record in battle as members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Following a year of strenuous training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, Masa was shipped overseas as a replacement for the 100th Infantry Battalion. He was assigned to a rifle company, and after three months as a rifleman, he was dead. I do not know whether he was cited for gallantry or heroism. I do not even know how he was killed. But I do know that he is dead, killed by enemy fire, that he is buried somewhere in Italy, that he is a hero in his own right.
More tragic than Masa’s death is the fact that a thousand others of Hawaii’s finest manhood shared his fate—young men who would be glad to be alive today, enjoying all that life offers. These men, together with thousands of other American youths, paid a very dear price to keep the horror and brutality of war away from American shores. We veterans who were fortunate enough to return can never forget what it meant to pay that price. We would like to share the pain of this memory with others. Because, then, and only then, can we truly appreciate the sacrifices made to make America what it is today. Only then can we become tolerant of opposing viewpoints. Only then can we tackle our post-war tasks with determination and purpose. Only then can we forget out bitterness, our disappointments, and our prejudices. Only then can we say, “It’s good to be alive!”
Our Nation is 171 years old today. From the Battle of Bunker Hill to the Battle of Okinawa, the pages of history are full of American courage, patience, and faith. Let us use these same qualities of good, solid Americanism to meet the challenges of our post-war period.