We believe that the story of the Japanese American soldiers of World War II is worthy of a US commemorative postage stamp. This postage stamp is one small step toward honoring the proud, diverse history of our Armed Forces, and of our nation as a whole.
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 and Chiz are widows of Nisei World War II veterans. All three were incarcerated as youth in the internment camps. Ms. Takahashi and Ms. King are pictured in the above photo.
They joined with friends and family 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 an internal policy within the Postal Service that prohibits new stamps from honoring specific 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.
Southern California Public Radio (KPCC, 89.3 FM) did a radio story on the 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.
These ladies continue their journey today (Ms. Ohira is pictured in the above photo). They believe that what these soldiers did was unique and compelling in our nation’s history, and worthy of a national stamp.
You, too, can help honor these American servicemen and servicewomen. Please help to remember this important and inspiring American story.
To read more about these ladies and their campaign online, here are links: