Japanese American Monument at Gila River

On Sunday Nov. 6, 2011, my son Josh and I helped clean up the Japanese American Monument at the Gila River Indian Community.

Organized by JACL leader Ted Namba, over 30 volunteers made the 20+ mile trip to Gila to help paint the monument and pick up trash. In addition to the community service efforts, the morning included talks and presentations by Mas Inoshita, Arizona Japanese American patriarch; Ken Koshio, Taiko Drummer; and myself.

Below are some photos taken by OASIS magazine publisher George Nakamura and video I shot of Ken Koshio on the taiko drums.

It was an honor to help take care of the Japanese American monument that was constructed almost 70 years ago. Below is an excerpt from the Gila News-Courier in 1943 that details the construction of the monument. Most likely the photo depicts what the structure looked like on December 28, 1943, without the wooden boards that listed the 400 names of the Japanese American soldiers from Gila River.

December 1943 also saw considerable progress on the construction of the Rivers Honor Roll monument being built by the U.S. servicemen’s parents and relatives associations. According to Kenji Arima, advisor for the monument, the project was almost half-way done by the end of 1943. “The hardest part of the job will be the construction of the name plate which will contain more than 400 names when completed,” stated Arima. Relatives of servicemen were asked to help build the monument.

Source: “Monument Half Finished,” Gila News-Courier, December 28, 1943, pg. 4