J-As Campaign for Postage Stamp Commemoration of Nisei WWII Soldiers

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Nisei Veterans Stamp - Courtesy Pacific Citizen

by Terri Oshiro

Campaign founder, Aiko King had been campaigning on her own for a Nissei WWII commemorative stamp for five years before being joined by other individual volunteers over the last few years. It hasn't been until 2007, however, that this volunteer drive has gathered enough steam to be a full-fledged campaign.

Nissei WWII Stamp Campaigners said, "Their proud American legacy continues, but it may be lost as the veterans, who are now in their 80's and 90's, pass away. We must find ways to keep their story alive. Help us campaign to keep a national permanent record of the Nissei WWII soldiers with a U. S. postage stamp. The Postal Service must be convinced that the Nissei WWII soldier's story is a subject that "has stood the test of time, is consistent with public opinion, and has broad national interest."

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japanese Americans were forced into concentration camps as though they were enemies of the state. Many Nissei, or second generation Japanese Americans joined the 100 th /442 nd Regimental Combat Team, despite being locked up because of their Japanese ancestry. They signed up by the thousands, becoming one of the most awarded and acclaimed units in American history.

Nissei WWII Stamp Campaigners have gained wildfire support over this last year from the AA community, organizations and institutions, 54 Southern California cities, and US Congressmen. They've held petition drives, letter-writing campaigns to Congress, the Postmaster General, and Postal Service's Stamp Committee, and are running a strong media campaign. There is also an on-line petition. Ken Burn's PBS WWII documentary series, "The War," did a lot to educate the public on the injustices and racist treatment of Japanese Americans interned in concentration camps. He also portrayed the bravery and heroism of the 100 th /442 nd Japanese American Regimental Combat Team in every episode of the series.

On September 24, 2007, the Postal Serivce announced that the Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee will be reviewing the Nissei WWII Soldiers Stamp proposal at their next meeting. They will discuss issuing of the stamp over the next two years, placing the Nissei stamp proposal "under consideration," for the years 2010 and 2011 (all stamp subjects for 2008-2009 have already been decided). The Campaign's goal is for a 2010 Nissei WWII veterans stamp. They will enter a long-term phase in the winter, expanding through city and state resolutions, and through continued efforts to gather endorsements from individuals and organizations using petitions, postcards and letters of support.