On Sunday, May 28, JACL and JAVA hosted the 69th Annual Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery to remember and pay respect to those interred at Arlington. It was an incredibly moving ceremony, with remarks by Terry Shima, a former member of the 442nd; retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Allen Goshi; and U.S. Army Major General Garrett Yee, to name a few. Special thanks to Turner Kobayashi and his family who coordinated the event, including arranging for flowers to be placed at each of the 88 grave sites of Japanese Americans interred at Arlington. Also speaking at the event was 4th grader Donovan Jackson, who attends Spark Matsunaga Elementary School and whose parents are both active duty military. The poise and maturity he demonstrated, speaking in front of a crowd at the Columbarium Ceremonial Courtyard, was remarkable, and we wanted to share his remarks with you:
Thank you. Three years after WWI, a tomb was placed in Arlington Cemetery. Why? To represent the soldiers who fought for America but their bodies were never recovered. In 1956, President Eisenhower paid for the memorial guaranteeing it would be a representation of America. So today, May 28th, we celebrate all the Soldiers, whose buried or not, that fought for America, but lost their lives in war. This day is called Memorial Day. At first, I thought Memorial Day was just another day, but as I did some research for my speech, I started getting a deeper meaning of Memorial Day. It used to be called Decoration Day. Also, there are many parades and parties to celebrate Memorial Day. So Memorial Day is kind of a big deal. I can remember those that lost their lives and some had families with kids my age, but did not make it back.
It’s hard growing up in a military family. My mom and dad are both in the Army and I have moved 3 times already. Soon, I will be moving to Alaska. My mom is in Korea now so my sister and I are with my Dad. My grandparents watch me when my dad has to go away for work. I also have traveled. I recently took a 14 hour flight to see my mom in Korea. 14 hours! I sometimes don’t want to be in a military family, because it’s hard to keep in touch with friends. When I get sad about being in a military family, I just think about all the good things we have done and new places to go with my family.
Also in my research, I read about a very brave soldier from WWI. He was a private and recorded as the youngest Soldier to ever die in WWI. He was taking shelter in a pit he dug himself when a German soldier threw toxic gas inside his pit. He tried to escape but his lungs gave out. He actually lied about his age to enlist in the Army. I believe he showed courage and his story of bravery will never end as we continue to celebrate Memorial Day.
I would like to end with part of Daniel Turner’s Poem “Memorial Day”
For Americans, tomorrow is Memorial Day
Religious or not, we should all stop and pray
For all the people, who gave their lives
At home and abroad, for their sacrifice
Fighting and dying, for the time that we waste
Ask God to love them and show them His grace
Pray for their families, for the love they lost
Paying the price, with the ultimate cost
Think of the fallen, lost in their prime
Be thankful for them and keep them in mind
Thank you for this opportunity and May God Bless Us All.