_ A poem by Yuri Kageyama
My voice screaming banzai
Ten thousand years banzai
Dying in glee as the divine devil wind
For the crane god whose voice I heard too late
My hand piercing your baby
A glob of meat with my bayonet
Raping girls in the name of comfort
Burning a city like a Sherman deranged
My heart that worships history
To win status as an honorary white
Bleeding streaks from a fluttering red sun
Despising those of the same yellow skin
My voice will never speak that way again
My hand will never act that way again
My heart will never feel that way again
No apology is enough but I promise
And I apologize
A poem by Yuri Kageyama
Yuuichiro Ishii on Guitar
Boku wa ashita shutsugeki shimasu.
I take off on my mission tomorrow.
I am so sorry I have not been a good son, leaving you so soon.
It’s such a peaceful evening _ so quiet I can almost hear the fireflies glowing.
I don’t know why, but I am filled with happiness, well, maybe not happiness, since I must say goodbye.
But this feeling fills my heart, all the way to the top of my pilot helmet, like a stretching sky without a single cloud.
I will fly my Zero, and fly and fly.
Into that perfect rainbow circle of hope.
photo by Eba Chan
My son is lucky and should be proud in having in his grandfathers from both his maternal and paternal sides men who refused to fight on the wrong side of the war.
His Japanese grandfather made a point of majoring in aeronautics at Nagoya University because that was the only way he could avoid the draft.
He had studied English and loved baseball. He knew war with the U.S. was pointless and disastrous.
He married a woman who worked at a hospital that her parents ran, watching victims of air raids bleed to death in the hallways before they could get treatment.
When the emperor made his announcement of defeat over the radio, people crumbled on the ground and wept.
But my parents were just relieved.
When American soldiers stopped by the hospital, everyone was too afraid to go talk to them, and so my mother went and all they wanted were directions.
Everyone else carried around little pills they were going to swallow to choose suicide over rape and death at the hands of the Americans.
My son’s Japanese American grandfather was in the 442 and fought in Europe in World War II.
He has a Purple Heart and many other medals for his bravery on the missions, including helping the liberation of Dachau.
It was a huge embarrassment for the US that while Japanese Americans were risking their lives in a war to end concentration camps in Germany, they were putting Japanese Americans, many of them families of the soldiers, in Internment camps in the American desert that were far less lethal but no less discriminatory or wrong.
My husband’s father had to leave his wife in Minidoka Camp.
There has been no evidence of Japanese Americans having posed a security threat or engaged in any espionage or other crimes.
In 1988, President Reagan issued an apology from the American government, and every Japanese American who had been interned received a redress check.
The 442 is still the most highly decorated military unit in American history.