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Memorial to Japanese-American Patriotism in World War II

Memorial to Japanese-American Patriotism in World War II
Artist Nina Akamu
Year 2000 (2000)
Type Bronze
Dimensions 4.3 m (14 ft)
Location Washington, D.C., United States

The Memorial to Japanese-American Patriotism in World War II is a memorial and monument designed by Davis Buckley and Japanese American artist Nina Akamu. The work is located at Louisiana Avenue and D Street, Northwest, Washington, D.C. The memorial commemorates Japanese American war involvement, veterans and patriotism during World War II, as well as those held in Japanese American internment camps.[1]


  • Description 1
  • Information 2
    • Acquisition and creation 2.1
    • Symbolism 2.2
    • Veterans honored 2.3
    • Dedication 2.4
  • Nina Akamu 3
  • Quotes on the memorial 4
  • See also 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7
  • References 8


The memorial consists of two Japanese cranes caught in barbed wire on top of a tall pedestal made of green Vermont marble. Standing amongst a landscaped plaza, a semi-circular granite wall curves around the sculpture. The wall features inscriptions of the names of World War II battles that Japanese Americans fought in, as well as the names of the ten internment camps where over 100,000 Japanese Americans were placed. There are also two panels that feature the names of Japanese Americans who died fighting in World War II and inscribed writings by Japanese American writers such as Bill Hosokawa.[1][2]


Acquisition and creation

The concept for the monument began with the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation in 1988. Approval for the construction of the memorial and sculpture was passed by a Federal statute on October 24, 1992.[1]

Sculptor Nina Akamu traveled to the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin where she spent time studying and sketching what would form into the centerpiece of the memorial.[3]


Rising above the rest of the memorial the cranes are visible from beyond the memorial walls, which celebrates the ability to rise beyond limitations. Their postures reflect one another - one wing pointing upwards, the other downwards, mirroring each other and representing the duality of the universe. Pressing their bodies against one another and seeming to hold onto the barbed wire, the birds show individual effort to escape restraint with the need for communal support and interdependence on one another.[4]

According to the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, the memorial: symbolic not only of the Japanese American experience, but of the extrication of anyone from deeply painful and restrictive circumstances. It reminds us of the battles we've fought to overcome our ignorance and prejudice and the meaning of an integrated culture, once pained and torn, now healed and unified. Finally, the monument presents the Japanese American experience as a symbol for all peoples.[4]

Veterans honored

The memorial honors Japanese American veterans who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd RCT, Military Intelligence Service and other units.[4]


Then United States Attorney General Janet Reno spoke at the dedication, where she shared a letter from President Bill Clinton stating:

We are diminished when any American is targeted unfairly because of his or her heritage. This memorial and the internment sites are powerful reminders that stereotyping, discrimination, hatred and racism have no place in this country.[3]

Nina Akamu

Nina Akamu is a Japanese American artist and the current vice president of the National, Sculpture Society. She created the sculpture at the center of the Japanese-American Patriotism in World War II.

Akamu's grandfather on her mother's side was arrested in Hawaii during the internment program. He was sent to a relocation camp on Sand Island in Pearl Harbor. Suffering from diabetes upon his internment, he died of a heart attack three months into his imprisonment. This family connection, combined with growing up for a time in Hawaii where she fished with her father at Pearl Harbor and the erection of a Japanese American war memorial near her home in Massa, Italy, inspired a strong connection to the memorial and its creation.[5]

Quotes on the memorial

The following quotes are written on the memorial:

"On February 1942, 73 days after the United States entered World War II, president Franklin D. Roosevelt issued executive order 9066 wich resulted in the removal of 120,000 Japanese American men, women and children from their homes in the western states and Hawaii.

Allowed only what they could carry, families were forced to abandon homes, friends, farms and businesses to live in ten remote relocation centers guarded by armed troops and surrounded by barbed wire fences. Some remainded in the relocation centers until march 1946.

In addition 4.500 were arrested by the Justice Department and held in interment camps, such as Santa Fe, New Mexico. 2.500 were also held at the family camp in Crystal City, Texas.

Answering the call of duty, young Japanese Americans entered into military service, joining many pre-war draftees. The 100th infantry battalion and 442nd regimental combat team, fighting in Europe, became the most highly decorated army unit for its size and length of service in American Military History. Japanese American in the Military Intelligence Service used their bilingual skills to help shorten the war in the pacific and thus saved countless American lives, The 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion helped fortify the infrastructure essential for victory.

In 1983, almost forty years after the war ended, the federal Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians found that there had been no military necessity for the mass imprisonment of Japanese Americans and that a grave injustice had been done.

In 1988 president Ronald W. Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act which made an apology for the injustice provided minimal compensation and reaffirmed the nation's commitment to equal justice under law for all Americans."

The following additional quotes are written on the memorial:

"May this memorial be a tribute to the indomitable spirit of a citizen in World War II who remained steadfast in their faith in our democratic system." Norman Y. Mineta, internee at Hearth Mountain.

"I am proud that I am an American of Japanese ancestry. I believe in this nation's institutions, ideals and traditions. I glory in her heritage. I boast of her history. I trust in her future." Mike M. Masaoka, civil rights advocate, staff sergent at 442nd regimental combat team.

"Our actions in passing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 are essential for giving credibility to our constitutional system and reinforcing our tradition of justice." Robert T Matsui, internee at Tule Lake.

"The lesson's learned must remain as a grave reminder of what we must not allow to happen again to any group." Daniel K. Inouye, US Congressman, US Senator and Captain of 442nd regional combat team.

"You fought not only the enemy but you fought predjuice - and you won keep up that fight and we will continue to win to make this great republic stand for what the constitution says its stands for the welfare of all of the people all of the time." President Harry S. Truman, 1945 ceremony for the 100th infantry battalion and 442nd regional combat team.

The internment of Japanese Americans and number of interns also are engraved in stone:

Internment Number of interns State
Poston 17,814 Arizona
Hearth Mountain 10,767 Wyoming
Topaz 8,130 Utah
Jerome 8,497 Arkansas
Manzanar 10,046 California
Rohwer 8,475 Arkansas
Tule Lake 18,879 California
Minidoka 9,397 Idaho
Gila River 13,348 Arizona
Amache 7,318 Colorado

See also

Further reading

  • Moeller Jr., G. Martin. AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, D.C.. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 4th ed., 2006. ISBN 0-8018-8468-3.
  • Pencak, William A. Encyclopedia of the Veteran in America: Volume 1. Greenwood, 2009. ISBN 0-313-34009-9 - Features the memorial and others dedicated to the American veteran.

External links

  • National Japanese American Memorial Foundation website
  • Nina Akamu's Website
  • Davis Buckley Architect's Website


  1. ^ a b c Smithsonian (2001). "National Japanese American Memorial, (sculpture).". Inventory staff. Smithsonian. Retrieved 14 Feb 2011. 
  2. ^ Bill Gallo (2008). "Champion of Japanese culture - and dignity". Local News. Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 15 Feb 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Goode, John Washington Sculpture. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008, p. 16.
  4. ^ a b c "Japanese Crane Monument". Visit the Memorial. National Japanese American Memorial Foundation. 2009. Retrieved 15 Feb 2011. 
  5. ^ Nina Akamu (2007). """The National Japanese American Memorial, "Golden Cranes. Public Sculpture. Studio Equus, et al. Retrieved 15 Feb 2011. 

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