New ‘Go for Broke’ stamp honors Japanese American service members in WWII
Barney Hajiro and Shizuya Hayashi, Medal of Honor recipients, and Ed Ichiyama pose in front of a C-17 Globemaster III named “Spirit of ‘Go for Broke’” during an arrival ceremony at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, on June 14, 2006. The men are veterans of the 442nd Combat Regimental Team. The aircraft is named in honor of their unit. / United States Air Force Technical Sergeant Shane A. Cuomo (Public domain).

With the issuance of the U.S. Postal Service’s newest commemorative stamp on June 3, the nation recognizes the contributions of Japanese American soldiers, some 33,000 altogether, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

For a time, these second-generation Japanese Americans, known as Nisei, were denied the opportunity to fight despite being American citizens. Many had been forcibly removed to concentration camps throughout the Western states for fear their loyalty lay with the country of their parents rather than the country in which they were born and raised.

They were, however, eventually formed into what became one of the most distinguished American fighting units of World War II: the all-Japanese American 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team.

Thousands of other Nisei served as translators, interpreters, and interrogators in the Pacific Theater for the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), nearly a thousand served in the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion, and more than a hundred Nisei women joined the Women’s Army Corps.

Once again, the ability to serve in the armed forces of the United States became a powerful marker of full American citizenship (though not without continuing discrimination), as had occurred with Native Americans, Black Americans, immigrants who had not yet become naturalized, women, members of the LBGTQ community and others.

The stamp art is based on a photograph of a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, whose motto was “Go for Broke.” The photograph was taken in 1944 at a railroad station in France. The color scheme of the stamp is a patriotic red, white and blue, and the type runs up the side in a manner suggestive of the vertical style in which Japanese text was traditionally written. The stamp was designed by art director Antonio Alcalá.

“Go for Broke” is being issued as a “forever” stamp, which will always be equal in value to the current first-class mail one-ounce price.

Owing to the continuing pandemic, the first day of issue ceremony, originally scheduled to be held in Los Angeles, will instead take place online on the USPS Facebook and Twitter sites. At press time the ceremony was announced for 11 a.m. Eastern time.


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

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