A virtual remembrance event marking the 79th anniversary of the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor was held at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa U.S. Army ROTC facilities. The event included the National Anthem performed by local ukulele artist Jake Shimabukuro, a keynote address by Medal of Honor Recipient Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, and recorded messages of peace and appreciation from around the world.
“We come today in gratitude to reflect and reaffirm our trust and belief in each other and the power of friendship,” said Bishop Yoshiaki Fujitani in the event’s invocation.
Hundreds tuned in to the livestream that included messages from the Major General Kenneth S. Hara, the adjutant general for the State of Hawaiʻi, and Hawaiʻi Congressman Kai Kahele. UH Mānoa Cadet Skylar Olsen performed Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī live from the UH ROTC facilities in front of the Hawaiian warrior statue that stands for all of the Fallen Warriors from the storied UH ROTC program founded in 1914.
Next to the statue was a table with a picture of 10 UH ROTC members who died in World War II. Seven of them were members of the Varsity Victory Volunteers, a group of Japanese Americans in the UH ROTC program when the war started. They were initially classified as enemy aliens after the attack on Pearl Harbor and were only allowed to do menial tasks in the first year of the war. The Varsity Victory Volunteers went on to form the core of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all Japanese American unit, while others served in military intelligence.
“The attack on Pearl Harbor changed the fates of nations and the families that make them what they are,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Gregory, UH Mānoa professor of military science. “These fallen warriors show the true strength of the United States, a nation composed of all nationalities working towards a common goal. We shall forever remember our Varsity Victory Volunteers for their inspiring journey, their struggles and their triumphs.”
Stacey Hayashi, a 1997 UH Mānoa graduate, will never forget their sacrifice. Hayashi organized and was the emcee of the virtual remembrance event, along with Shimabukuro. She is the filmmaker who made Go For Broke, the origin story of Varsity Victory Volunteers and the 442nd regiment.
“We can never forget the incredibly selfless service of all of the veterans who served during World War II,” said Hayashi. “They fought for the rights and opportunities that all of us still benefit from till this day.”