Close to 100 people turned out for the 19th annual Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk, which took place on Saturday, April 1 at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in Washington, D.C. Those in attendance came out to see, hear, and support the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation and the other sponsoring organizations in their mission to remind the public of the struggles and sacrifices made by people of Japanese ancestry who were deprived of their civil rights during WW II.
The event kicked off with Nen Daiko and a rousing taiko performance, followed by the MC of the event, Jeff Moy, vice president of public affairs for JACL, opening the program by recounting a personal story of his grandmother being forced to evacuate from her home in 1942. This was followed by DC Chapter co-President Ron Mori who told the story about his aunt, Yoshiko Mori who was incarcerated in Rohwer during the war. Ron also brought along a couple of rare and personal artifacts including his aunt’s war relocation leave pass that she used to travel from Rohwer to a job in Chicago.
Speakers for this year’s event included many notable individuals, including Diana Mayhew, president of the National Cherry Blossom Committee; Richard Bradley, chair of the National Cherry Blossom Committee; Lauren C. Vaughan, secretary of the District of Columbia; Minister Takuya Sasayama from the Embassy of Japan; Cal Shintani, chair of NJAMF; and Michael Cardarelli, president of the Japanese American Veterans Association.
This year’s keynote was delivered by Ms. Peggy Nagae, lead attorney in the Minoru Yasui case. Peggy’s remarks were very moving and powerful and were a call to action for all of us to never forget and to continue to work on protecting and preserving civil rights for all of us.
The event concluded with a walk around the National Mall, led by the Mt. Airy Baptist Church Troop & Pack 508.
As always, there was a very strong JACL presence at this event with both co-presidents of the DC Chapter Georgette Furukawa-Martinez and Ron Mori, co-vice president Nikki Yamashiro, Vice President of General Operations Michelle Amano, and board members Craig Shimizu, John Tobe, and Lauren Yamagata in attendance. Former National JACL President Larry Oda and his wife Anne, former national JACL President Floyd Mori and his wife Irene, and longtime and former DC Chapter President Gerald Yamada and his wife Nancy were also there to lend their support.
The co-sponsors of this event were DC Chapter of JACL, Ekoji Buddhist Temple, Japanese American Veterans Association, and the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.
We also live tweeted the event! You can find us on Twitter at: @jacl_DCchapter.
It was a poignant and memorable event that we were glad to see so many people come out in support, and as always and we can’t wait for next year’s walk.