LIHUE, Hawaii — The U.S. Postal Service has unveiled a new commemorative stamp honoring WWII veterans representing the all-Japanese American 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442 Regimental Combat Team from Kauai.
“The Nisei soldiers of the 442d Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion are exemplary role models who displayed perseverance, bravery and aloha. This stamp includes their motto ‘Go for Broke,’ which became the basis for their teamwork and victories on the battlefield,” Democratic state Rep. Nadine K. Nakamura told The Garden Island on Saturday.
The “Go For Broke: Japanese American Soldiers of World War II” stamp honors the second generation Japanese Americans, or Nisei, who fought during the war and faced discrimination in the U.S.
The design is meant to elicit feelings of growth, healing, and hope.
The stamp features Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto from the Big Island, a member of the combat team. It was designed by Antonio Alcala based on a photograph taken in 1944.
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” said Lynn Heirakuji, president of the Nisei Veterans Legacy and co-chair of the Stamp Our Story Hawaii Organizing Committee. “There is a big story behind this little stamp. But it’s more than a history lesson. It holds powerful lessons for this and future generations.”
Heirakuji, whose father was also a member of the combat team, said this is the first U.S. Postal stamp to feature an Asian American solider and bring recognition to about 33,000 Japanese American soldiers who fought in the U.S. Army during the war.
He also credited the effort to the Stamp Our Story campaign, which started in 2005 by three Japanese American women from California — Fusa Takahashi, Aiko O. King, and the late Chiz Ohira.
The new red and blue "forever" stamps will feature a German shepherd, Labrador retriever, Belgian Malinois and Dutch shepherd.
The USPS announced that the stamp is being issued as a forever stamp, which will always be equal in value to the current First Class mail one-ounce (28-gram) price. The stamp is available at all post offices, and online.
“This stamp not only honors the bravery and dedication of our Japanese American Nisei soldiers; it reminds us of our obligation to carry on the legacy of these soldiers to fight for a more-equal and just world,” Democratic state Rep. Della Au Belatti said.