We seek a U.S. commemorative postage stamp that would tell the inspiring story of the Japanese American Nisei World War II servicemen and servicewomen. Read their story below. Click here to view support from lawmakers and how you can help.
Postal Service restrictions prohibit new stamps from directly featuring military units and veterans groups. Therefore a symbolic representation must be used, such as the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II. An image of the Memorial’s central crane sculpture is above. The Nisei soldiers are the cornerstone of this National Park Service site located in Washington, D.C. [courtesy of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation].
Currently the Postmaster General is considering a stamp subject proposal that features the Memorial. The Stamp Our Story Campaign supports the Memorial in light of the Postal Service restriction on new military unit stamps.
The Postal Service only accepts stamp subject proposals from the public. Stamp images and artwork are prohibited. The Postal Service reserves the exclusive right to design the stamp image, which will not be known until a stamp is released to the public.
Why these American soldiers?
This American story begins in 1941. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan that year, many people doubted the Nisei’s loyalty just because their parents were from Japan. “Nisei” [pronounced KNEE-say] means Americans born to parents who are from Japan. The photo above shows one of the Nisei soldiers of the war.
The Nisei felt compelled to help our nation win the war and show their American loyalty in the face of the war hysteria and prejudice against them.
They were among the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forced into “internment camps,” or incarceration centers, when the government feared them just because they looked like the enemy. The suspicion was based on fear, not fact. Two-thirds were American citizens. No evidence of wrongdoing was presented by authorities to justify their detention. The above photo from the war shows the Manzanar camp near Lone Pine, California. Such camps were a type of concentration camp surrounded by barbed wire, with sentry towers and loaded machine guns pointed inside the fences.
Watch a short documentary about these soldiers above, called “Witness: American Heroes,” ABC-TV, 2011.
They mainly served in segregated units, and their heroics and valor are now legendary. The 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team would become the most decorated unit of the war. They are also considered the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in American history.
In the war with Japan, they are credited with shortening the war by two years, and saving countless lives in the process. They are honored as founders of the US Armed Forces Defense Language Institute (DLI). Over 6,000 Nisei formed the military linguist unit known as the Military Intelligence Service, or MIS, serving to defeat Japan.
The Nisei soldiers earned over 18,000 medals, at least 5,000 Purple Hearts (some estimating as many as 9,000), and 21 Medals of Honor. Collectively, they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in November of 2011.
Nisei women also served proudly in the US Army, through the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and Army Nurse Corps. The WAC mainly trained as switchboard operators, mechanics, bakers, clerks, drivers, stenographers, translators, and seamstresses. Watch this short video from May 2009 that features a reunion of two Nisei WAC:
Why a stamp?
It is just a tiny rectangular piece of paper. People buy stamps less and less each year with the increased use of electronic communication. So what’s the big deal?
A commemorative stamp, while small in its dimensions, is huge in its impact. It will be preserved and remembered as an iconic image which will last through the ages.
Stamps are still enjoyed and used widely. Most nations, including the US, issue stamps as a symbolic way to remember people, places, events, and other things that are important to the shared history and culture of its people. On a functional level, most people must buy at least some stamps for use on bills, etc. Many people enjoy selecting special stamps to use for important letters, cards, invitations, and packages. Some stamps become personal keepsakes, too. Stamp collecting is still one of the most popular hobbies in the world. Stamps can even be beautiful, miniature works of art.
Our stamp subject proposals have been looked at before, and they meet or exceed all posted guidelines for stamp selection.
The stamp subject proposal now under consideration at the Postal Service honors the American patriotism of these soldiers. The stamp subject features the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II. The Memorial tells the story of the Nisei soldiers within the overall story of the “internment camps.” The central crane sculpture at the Memorial is shown in the photo above.
Let’s remember the American Nisei servicemen and servicewomen on a stamp for what they did in service to our nation with utmost valor, in the face of so much adversity abroad and at home.
Theirs is a truly inspiring story for America, and the world, that we think people will want to remember a hundred years from now!
Click here to learn how you can help. Thank you!
Stamp Our Story is the 2016 relaunch of The Nisei World War II Stamp Campaign. This is also called the “founders’ campaign” because it is the original group started by the three Nisei founders (Ms. Fusa Takahashi, Ms. Aiko King, and Ms. Chiz Ohira) in 2005. To read about their story, go to About Us.
They Deserve A Stamp is a sister campaign working toward the shared goal of the stamp. To view their website, go to TheyDeserveAStamp.org.