The Go For Broke Japanese American Soldiers of World War II Forever US commemorative postage stamp now on sale – click here to buy at USPS.com.
We mourn the loss of Stamp Our Story Co-Founder, Aiko Ogata King. She passed away on May 26, 2022, at the age of 94, with her family close by.
Aiko was born on October 10, 1927, in Turlock, California. She grew up in the Central Valley Japanese American farming community where she would meet Fusa Takahashi, and become lifelong friends. As young teenagers, the two would later be removed from their hometowns with their families and both forced into the Amache, Colorado incarceration camp during World War II. Following the war, she served as a US Army civilian nurse during the Korean War era in Japan.
Aiko developed an interest in collecting postage stamps, as well as a knack for being a “go-getter” and avid community activist in her Ventura Japanese American Citizens League Chapter. She and her childhood friend Fusa viewed a Nisei World War II Soldiers exhibition together at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles in 2005, and became inspired to do more to commemorate the Nisei who served. The two friends thought of getting a US commemorative postage made to honor the Nisei Soldiers, and embarked on a 15-year journey that resulted in the US Postal Service issuing the “Go For Broke Japanese American Soldiers of World War II” Forever postage stamp in June of 2021.
They developed the Stamp Our Story Committee with family and friends, which would become a nationwide and international movement after the US Postal Service repeatedly denied their requests. Through their commitment and persuasiveness, the Postal Service eventually changed and issued their stamp.
“Aiko’s energy, compassion, and positivity throughout her life will always be remembered by those she knew, and we now grieve her loss alongside her family,” said Wayne Osako, Stamp Our Story Committee Co-Chair. “Aiko’s kind and generous heart led her into a life of service, from nursing, to her work in the JACL, and with our campaign. Every time you pick up or see the Go For Broke Soldiers Forever Stamp, think of Aiko. Her interest in stamps and her tireless work made this a reality.”
Rest in Peace, Aiko.
Stamp Our Story Founder and Co-Chair, Fusa Takahashi, passed away on January 16, 2022, at the age of 94.
“As we grieve her passing alongside her family, we remember her kindness, leadership, and vision for the 15-year community movement that spread across the nation, and around the world, and led to the groundbreaking creation of the Go For Broke Soldiers Stamp last year,” said Wayne Osako, Co-Chair with Fusa of the Stamp Our Story Committee.
The landmark commemorative postage stamp is the first in U.S. postal history to feature an Asian American soldier. Through the inspiring World War II story of Japanese American service in the U.S. military, the stamp is also the first to feature the history of the incarceration camps.
Fusa founded the Stamp Our Story Campaign with friends Aiko Ogata King and the late Chiz Ohira in 2005. She worked tirelessly and with enthusiasm toward the stamp.
“I hope with the issuance of this stamp, we will be able to make the general public aware of what the Nisei Soldiers have accomplished and this will help dispel discrimination that many Asian Americans are facing,” Fusa shared in a 2021 interview with the Stamp Our Story Committee.
“Always be proud of your heritage — as Nisei, it’s what our parents taught us that made these soldiers give their best.”
Rest in Peace, Fusa.
FIRST CITY OF ISSUANCE DEDICATION
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
FRIDAY, JUNE 4TH, 2021
THE HONOLULU CEREMONY
JUNE 4TH, 2021
BAY AREA VIRTUAL STAMP DEDICATION
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
JUNE 4TH, 2021
Video coming soon…
HOUSTON STAMP DEDICATION
JUNE 4TH, 2021
KAUAI STAMP DEDICATION
JUNE 4TH, 2021
THE SACRAMENTO CEREMONY
JUNE 5TH, 2021
THE IDAHO CEREMONY
MINIDOKA NHS, IDAHO
JUNE 13TH, 2021
THE PORTLAND CEREMONY
JUNE 14TH, 2021
We send our heartfelt gratitude to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, former Postmaster General Megan Brennan who was involved in this stamp selection, 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 16 million fellow American servicemen and servicewomen of the war.
The First Day of Issuance for the stamp was Thursday, June 3rd, 2021.
The First City of Issuance is Los Angeles, California, where the Go For Broke veteran widows and their friends and families first started to campaign for the stamp in 2005.
Stamp Our Story is currently working with the U.S. Postal Service to develop local, special dedications for the stamp release across the nation where there is interest. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, USPS produced a national stamp dedication video that is viewable online.
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 the Armed Forces. In 2011, they were also collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. (Read more about their history at the bottom of this page, and on our website’s History page, which includes external links as well.)
The Stamp Our Story Coalition, an ad hoc group of mainly family and friends of the Go For Broke Soldiers, was founded in 2005 by three Nisei (second generation Japanese American) women from California who themselves endured confinement in the camps during the war. The group has long sought to tell the Go For Broke Soldiers 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 – MIS) and the late Ted Ohira (442nd Regimental Combat Team, H Company).
Stamp Our Story is led by Co-Chairs Fusa Takahashi (founder) and Wayne Osako. Wayne is a Sansei (third generation Japanese American) whose parents were incarcerated as children at the Jerome and Heart Mountain camps, and whose relatives were Go For Broke Soldiers.
The campaign received overwhelming support from the public, which resulted in petitions nationwide, and even included French citizens and officials from towns liberated from German forces 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.
On November 17th, 2020, Stamp Our Story learned that the Go For Broke Soldiers stamp will be issued in 2021. We are forever grateful to all of you who helped over the years, including lawmakers, past and present.
We are proud to highlight that this campaign united Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Over the years many organizations have contributed to this effort. We would like to highlight the prominent support from the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) at the local and national levels.
Many of the Go For Broke veterans and their family, friends, and others who supported the stamp campaign have passed away since we began the effort in 2005. Please join with us in remembering them as we celebrate this new U.S. commemorative stamp.
After the stamp is issued this year, we will continue to work toward educating the public about the American story behind the stamp.
Remember to buy the Go For Broke Soldiers Forever Stamp!
Keep up to date on social media:
In recent years a National Go For Broke Day on April 5th was established to remember and to honor the Go For Broke soldiers. This year is especially momentous due to the new Go For Broke commemorative postage stamp. Join us as we honor the American men and women of Japanese heritage who served in the U.S. military during World War II.
[Photos courtesy of the National Archives]
What does “Go For Broke” mean?
Go For Broke means to go for your goal with your best effort and a positive attitude, no matter how difficult the task.
“Go For Broke” is the original motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated U.S. Army unit comprised primarily of Japanese Americans during World War II.
“Go For Broke Soldiers” now commonly refers to all of the American men and women of Japanese heritage who served in the U.S. military during World War II.
Men served mainly in the U.S. Army: 100th Infantry Battalion (Headquarters Company, A Company, B Company, C Company, D Company, E Company, F Company, Medical Detachment); 442nd Regimental Combat Team (Regimental Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Battalion, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 232nd Combat Engineer Company), 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion; Military Intelligence Service-MIS (Military Intelligence Service Language School-MISLS). The MIS were mainly linguists who served attached to other Allied units in the Pacific Theater of the war. The 100th Battalion served independently from 1942-1944, but it was later combined with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 1944, and replaced the 1st Battalion. The joined units became known as the combined 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Women served primarily in the Women’s Army Corps-WAC, Army Nurse Corps-ANC, Cadet Nurse Corps-CNC, and in the Military Intelligence Service-MIS.
It is important to note that there are also some Japanese Americans who served in the U.S. military outside of these units both stateside and overseas.
The Stamp Our Story campaign has been inspired by the Go For Broke motto as we faced many challenges during our 15-year effort to get a U.S. commemorative postage stamp in their honor.
We believe that the “Go For Broke” spirit is part of the American “Can Do” spirit that we can all be inspired by.
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 Soldiers 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, the cybrarian 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 Soldiers stamp image was created 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 Soldiers 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 Americans 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.
Most Japanese Americans at the time were located in communities in Hawaii and in the west coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington.
Caught up by the war hysteria and prejudice, then President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which required Americans of Japanese heritage to leave west coast states or be forced into detention centers with armed guards and barbed wire surrounding them.
An estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans were confined by federal officials into these “relocation centers,” or “internment” camps (like Manzanar, pictured above). Many Americans feared them just because they looked like the enemy. The suspicion was based on fear, not fact. Two-thirds of those who were incarcerated were American citizens. No evidence of wrongdoing was presented by authorities to justify their detention.
Few would blame them if they chose not to serve after the nation removed their citizenship and civil rights. Some did resist military service and were faced with federal charges. Yet, over 33,000 Japanese Americans enlisted in the U.S. military anyway, many from behind the barbed wire of the camps. They mainly served in segregated units, and their heroics and valor are now legendary. Over 800 gave the ultimate sacrifice. 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, 4,000+ Purple Hearts, eight Presidential Unit Citations, 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 served in 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!
On a side note: They Deserve A Stamp was formed in recent years as a sister campaign working toward the shared goal of the stamp. Click here to view their website. A special thanks goes out to Jeff MacIntyre and They Deserve A Stamp for all of their help! They Deserve A Stamp is part of the Stamp Our Story campaign.
To read more about their connection, go to About Us.
Stamp Our Story is the 2016 relaunch of The Nisei World War II Stamp Campaign, which is the original name of the stamp effort. Stamp Our Story 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.