By: Martha Watanabe
On Saturday, April 2, this year’s 24th Annual National Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk was held virtually for the second time. It was disappointing not to be able to hold the event in person but with the pandemic, safety remains a priority. As this is the 80th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, this year’s theme was “Dissenting Voice to EO 9066: Eleanor Roosevelt.” Our pre-registration was 130 and over 80 people participated online in the program. It was exciting to see that more than half of the folks were from outside the DMV.
Our pre-show consisted of a slide show featuring the Memorial and photos from prior years, then a performance by Nen Daiko. Martha Watanabe began the program with welcome remarks. Marty Herbert led the Pledge of Allegiance with a photo of Mark Nakagawa saluting the flag and Dr. Noriko Hunter sang the National Anthem. Ben deGuzman, Director of the Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs read a letter of greeting from Mayor Muriel Bowser. Diana Mayhew, President of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, sent a video message of greeting and introduced the clips from their 2022 Goodwill Ambassadors. We were pleased that Ambassador Tomita Koji sent a video message. This year we taped the remarks of the co-sponsors at the Memorial to give a “live” feel to the program. The Chapter was represented by Kim Hirose Tobe, co-President.
This year our keynote speaker was David B. Woolner, resident historian, senior fellow, and former Executive Director of the Roosevelt Institute who shared insights into Eleanor Roosevelt’s opposition to EO 9066. He graciously agreed to do a question and answer session following his remarks which were facilitated by Ryan Yamamoto, the nightly news anchor at KPIX-SF.
We recorded the program and soon it will be posted on social media sites.