We are an all-volunteer, grassroots effort by people who believe that the inspiring story of these American Nisei servicemen and servicewomen of World War II is worthy of a US commemorative postage stamp. This postage stamp would be one small step toward honoring the proud, diverse history of our US Armed Forces, and of our nation as a whole.
Since the Revolutionary War, the American military has been composed of a mixed group of individuals united by the same, democratic beliefs against tyranny. These beliefs became central to what the Founding Fathers wrote into our Constitution.
During World War II, our Constitution was tested when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the executive power of his position to incarcerate over 120,000 Japanese Americans in so-called “internment camps.” The President and much of our nation’s leadership were swept up by racial prejudice and war hysteria following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan. The loyalty of all Americans of Japanese ancestry was put into doubt, with no evidence of any wrongdoing presented to justify the removal of their basic civil rights.
Despite this injustice, over 33,000 American men and women of Japanese ancestry served in the US Army showing their American loyalty. Their exemplary record and vital roles both in the European and Pacific Theaters of war were used as justification to close the incarceration camps and to help Japanese Americans re-enter society following the end of the war. Their service and sacrifice also was central to the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. This legislation provided a formal apology for the confinement sites, and $20,000 each to those who were in the camps.
This grassroots campaign began in 2005 by three Nisei women from California: Fusa Takahashi, Aiko O. King, and Chiz Ohira. Ms. Takahashi and Ms. Ohira are both widows of Nisei World War II veterans. All three were incarcerated as youth in the internment camps. Ms. Takahashi and Ms. King are shown in the photo above discussing the stamp campaign.
They joined with friends, family, and like-minded people to get this little stamp for a big cause.
After just four years of campaigning, they received impressive support. What started out as letters to the Postal Service and to the President, they began circulating petitions among the people they knew. They set up tables at events, and in front of stores, asking people to sign. They received over 10,000 handwritten signatures before sending them to the Postal Service. Prominent organizations backed them. Six states passed unanimous resolutions in support of their cause. Congress sent a letter of support in 2009.
Yet, despite all of the widespread support, they ran into the brick wall of an internal policy within the Postal Service which prohibits new stamps from honoring military units. The Postal Service told them about this policy in 2009. Due to the overwhelming level of support for the stamp, the USPS even set up a special sub-committee to review the policy, but decided to keep it in place. The argument was that it is too difficult to judge units, and there are potentially too many units to review. Ms. King is shown above (in the center) with Rep. Adam Schiff (pictured to Ms. King’s right) who is one of many supportive congress members, and three stamp campaigners.
These women continue their journey today. Ms. Ohira is shown in the photo above gathering stamp petition signatures at a public event. They believe that what these soldiers did was unique and compelling in our nation’s history, and worthy of a national stamp. We are eager to see the Postal Service add a commemorative stamp telling the inspiring story of the Japanese American soldiers of World War II soon.
You can help honor these American soldiers.
To read more about this campaign online, here are links to articles:
About the Stamp Our Story header image…
The header image for the Stamp Our Story website is from the famous photo of Japanese American soldiers of the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team assembling after the “Rescue of the Lost Battalion” in October of 1944. 275 members from the 1st Battalion of the 141st Texas Infantry became surrounded by German troops deep in the Vosges Mountains of France. The 100th/442nd was sent in to free them. The German military were commanded to repel the Allies at all costs. The 100th/442nd succeeded but with heavy casualties.
The original photo is below.
For more historical information on the battle to free the Lost Battalion, here are two links.
LISTEN TO RADIO STORY ON THE CAMPAIGN
Southern California Public Radio (KPCC, 89.3 FM) did a radio story from the early years of this stamp campaign which aired May 9, 2009. The story was part of the “Off-Ramp” program. Hear the late 442nd Nisei veteran Tets Asato talk about his experiences during the show’s introduction at the 1:20 minute mark. The main story is five minutes long and begins at the 27:41 minute mark, which includes a short interview with a Postal Service spokesperson. Click here to listen. Please note that this program is dated from 2009, when our focus was on a stamp that focused solely on the Nisei soldiers. In light of the Postal Service restrictions on such stamps featuring the soldiers, in 2015 our position changed to support a symbolic honor for the soldiers through a stamp featuring the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism.