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Monument History

Robert Matsui.

Addressing history's omission
In 1989, a group of Japanese American World War II veterans established the 100th/442nd/MIS World War II Memorial Foundation to honor their compatriots with a monument. It would be the first of its kind on the US mainland. It would also fill a gap in American history that was left when many of these Japanese American soldiers, more than 40 years after they had returned home, remained unrecognized by the government and unknown or forgotten by most Americans.

At the future site of the Go For Broke Monument.

The rocky path to recognition
The journey to the monument's realization was fraught with challenges. Yet over the next ten years, the Foundation led a grassroots campaign to locate an appropriate site and raise funds for the monument's construction and maintenance. In spite of many hurdles, the Foundation persevered in its efforts to bring the Japanese American veterans the recognition they deserved.

The members appealed to veterans groups as well as to the national community while they worked diligently to compile information on the Japanese Americans who served during the war.

The Go For Broke Monument under construction from the ground up.

A vision realized
In 1998, the Foundation broke ground for the monument at the northern end of Central Avenue in the Little Tokyo district in Los Angeles, California. On June 5, 1999, the Go For Broke Monument was presented to the City of Los Angeles. The dedication ceremony was attended by 1,500 guests, including veterans, their families and friends, business leaders and elected officials.

Veterans Masao "Mas" Takahashi (left) and Tokuji "Toke" Yoshihashi (right) at the Go For Broke Monument, 2014. Courtesy of Jason Kusagaya.
The 442nd RCT shoulder sleeve insignia. Courtesy of Jason Kusagaya

A history to remember
For the group of Japanese American veterans who started this journey, the Go For Broke Monument represented the culmination of a collective effort that had begun more than fifty years before its unveiling, when they had first entered military service.

The Go For Broke Monument, a wedge of black granite set in a circle, affirmed the critical role that the Japanese American men and women held in the war. It would ensure that their place in US history was finally acknowledged, and that they themselves would always be remembered.

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