George Joe Sakato, Medal of Honor, Congressional Gold Medal Recipient
George Joe Sakato, Medal of Honor, Congressional Gold Medal Recipient

By Eric Berve

When I was in elementary school, I would always ask my mom why my grandpa had two Japanese katana* shelved in his basement, and she would tell me he was in the army during World War II, but he was lucky enough to never have to see the field of battle. I always idolized him for this, but as I grew older, I began to realize just how lucky he was to have
returned home.

In a time filled with segregation and intolerance, hundreds of persecuted Japanese men went to war for America to fight, and many of them died fighting for the freedoms they desired so very much. But they have not been forgotten.

I had the honor to volunteer at the 67th Annual Community Memorial Day Service at the Nisei War Memorial on May 27, where the memories of the brave souls lost during the war are honored to the highest degree. We were fortunate enough to have Mr. George Sakato, one of the few Japanese-American Medal of Honor recipients, and speak during the service; while his body has aged, his mind and heart remained as strong and vivid as they were 60 years ago.

Because of the courage of Mr. Sakato and other men who fought for their country, we are able to live our lives without the hatred and intolerance that they must have felt for so many years.

*Katana were one of the traditionally made Japanese swords that were worn by samurais of feudal Japan.