The U.S. Postal Service will issue the “Go For Broke” commemorative postage stamp in 2021!
We send our heartfelt gratitude to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the U.S. Postal Service.
This commemorative stamp is the culmination of over 15 years of efforts by the Stamp Our Story campaign founders and the many people who supported the effort. We sincerely appreciate all of you who helped. We are forever grateful.
As we celebrate this announcement, we also ask that you join us in remembering the service and sacrifice of the American men and women of Japanese heritage who served during World War II. Over 800 gave their lives. They served with distinction and honor alongside the 16 million fellow American servicemen and servicewomen of the war.
These Japanese American men and women patriotically served in the U.S. military during the war, despite our nation’s mass incarceration of their families, friends, and communities in detention centers, or “internment” camps, on American soil. Many of them enlisted from behind the barbed wire of the camps, seeking to contribute to the war effort, and to prove their loyalty through service. They served amidst intense war hysteria and prejudice directed at them, and at the whole Japanese American community.
Their inspiring legacy helped Japanese Americans get back on their feet after the war, and helped lead to reparations in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Theirs is also a proud story shared by our nation’s military, that honors them with buildings named after them, a National Go For Broke Day (April 5th), and a prominent place in the history of our Armed Forces. In 2011, they were also collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
The Stamp Our Story campaign, founded in 2005 by three Japanese American women from California who themselves endured confinement in the camps during the war, has long sought to tell the “Go For Broke” story through a postage stamp (click here to learn more about the campaign’s history). Their names are Fusa Takahashi (Granite Bay), Aiko O. King (Camarillo), and the late Chiz Ohira (Gardena). Fusa and Chiz are both widows of Go For Broke veterans: the late Kazuo Takahashi (Military Intelligence Service) and the late Ted Ohira (442nd Regimental Combat Team, H Company).
The campaign received overwhelming support from the public, which resulted in petitions nationwide, and even included French citizens and officials from towns liberated by the Go For Broke soldiers during the war. The campaign also received prominent support from local, state, and national lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
Over the years, Stamp Our Story has submitted and supported various proposals that would tell the “Go For Broke” story, including one that featured the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II (pictured below).
After the stamp is issued next year, we will continue to work toward educating the public about the American story behind the stamp.
… And remember to buy the “Go For Broke” stamp when it is issued next year!
The Story Behind the Stamp Image
The soldier depicted on the “Go For Broke” stamp is U.S. Army Private First Class Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto, of Ninole, Hawaii. The image used by the Postal Service, pictured above, is from the Hawaii Nisei Project’s archives. He was a member of the 100th/442nd RCT, Antitank Company. The photograph was taken in Touet de l’Escarène in Southern France. He is standing in front of jeeps in the original image. Whitey often drove jeeps for his Antitank Company.
With his image on the “Go For Broke” stamp, Whitey becomes symbolic of all of the Japanese Americans who served in the U.S. military during World War II. He had a rough time in his youth, without a mother in his life, and his father passed away when he was in high school. In addition, he faced the prejudice and war hysteria by being treated as the “enemy” after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan.
Despite these hurdles, he volunteered for the U.S. Army, and fought in the Rescue of the Lost Battalion, Operation Dragoon in the D-Day Invasion, and the Breaking of the Gothic Line. Following the end of the war, he went back to Hawaii and married his childhood sweetheart with whom he corresponded throughout the war. He would find a career working as an aircraft technician, and spend over 40 years volunteering at the Hawaii Army Museum until he passed a few years ago.
Whitey was humble, and he was dedicated to overcome whatever challenges he faced. He shared the following perspective to the Hawaii Nisei Project, which reflects the Nisei’s “Go For Broke” spirit:
We were brought up properly. Not to bring shame or disgrace to our family or to our neighbors, or even for the community.
We had no choice . . . shall I put it that way? On our upbringing, that when you start something, accomplish it, no matter how difficult it is.
The 100th and the 442nd never stepped back, always go forward and accomplish the mission, regardless of how hard it was.
Whitey’s photo above is shown courtesy of the Hawaii Nisei Project. Special thanks goes to Shari Tamashiro, who developed and maintains the Hawaii Nisei Project. She kindly provided information through the Project and through her social network platforms that were used for this entry.
The Artwork of the Stamp
The “Go For Broke” stamp image was by USPS Art Director Antonio Alcalá. He used the intaglio method, which is a careful, handmade process of printmaking that has been around since the 1600s. This method essential involves scratching, or engraving, a design into a metal plate, then applying colored ink to the metal plate which is finally transferred to paper by mechanical press for the final image. It is said that the sharpness of the image created through this process is an essential part of its beauty. This is the process used historically in postage stamps from its earliest days. It is also traditionally used in banknote design. An example that many people have seen is the engraving done for images on a dollar bill.
Look closely at the “Go For Broke” stamp, and you can actually see the lines that were painstakingly made by the artist.
All postage stamp artwork comes from within the U.S. Postal Service art studios. Mr. Alcalá is one of four art directors there.
It is important to note that the Postal Service does not accept design proposals from the public; only subject proposals are allowed. Stamp Our Story has often been asked about this topic in the past.
When asked by Stamp Our Story for a remark on the stamp’s design, the U.S. Postal Service released this statement:
In order to make the design work at stamp size, the art director started with an image that was immediately recognizable as a soldier of Japanese descent. Engraving the image gave it a grounding in historical stamps and the red, white, and blue color scheme added a fresh contemporary and patriotic feel.
Mr. Alcalá is well-known in the design community and his work is in many galleries, including the National Postal Museum. A few of his many notable, iconic artworks for the Postal Service include the stamps for Wilt Chamberlain (2014), Janis Joplin (2014), Elvis Presley (2015), and the Solar Eclipse (2017).
(Image from Capitol Communicator)
Meet the artist through this 4-minute 2016 YouTube video from AARP. In it, Mr. Alcalá discusses his life as a stamp designer.
Want to learn more about intaglio? Here is a 5-minute introduction to intaglio from the Museum of Modern Art.
Why this American story?
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan in 1941, many people doubted the Nisei’s loyalty just because their parents were from Japan. “Nisei” [pronounced KNEE-say] means ‘second-generation’ Americans born to parents who are from Japan.
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 confined by federal officials into “relocation centers,” or “internment” camps (like Manzanar, pictured above), 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.
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 for its size and length of service. They earned over 18,000 medals, 9,000 Purple Hearts, and 21 Medals of Honor, in just two years of service. In the war with Japan, they are credited with shortening the war by two years, and founding the US Armed Forces Defense Language Institute (originally called the Military Intelligence Service, or MIS). Nisei women entered the Women’s Army Corps, Army Nurse Corps, and Cadet Nurse Corps.
This American story is one of the shining examples of patriotism in our nation’s history.
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.
The US Postal Service accepts stamp subject ideas but not any designs or images. The Postal Service reserves the right to decide on the final stamp image.
Join us in remembering these Americans through the “Go For Broke” 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!
They Deserve A Stamp is part of Stamp Our Story and The Nisei World War II Stamp Campaign. They were formed in recent years as a sister campaign working toward the shared goal of the stamp. To view their website, go to TheyDeserveAStamp.org. A special thanks goes out to Jeff McIntyre and They Deserve A Stamp for all of their help!
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 effort begun in 2005. To read about the campaign’s story, go to About Us.