Nisei Veterans' Center on Maui Gets New Facility

442nd RCT veteran Arthur Kurahara in gassho at the Nisei Veterans’ Center’s Sept. 29 joint memorial service for the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

By Associated Press
October 21, 2011

WAILUKU, Hawaii—The Nisei Veterans Memorial Center on Maui will be able to display memorabilia from Japanese American soldiers of World War II after it finishes building a new Education Center early next year.

The facility is dedicated to recounting the history of the veterans to facilitate the passing down of values, The Maui News reported Sept. 16.

“The Education Center is in all likelihood going to be the last major facility dedicated to the World War II Japanese American veterans that would have been built and designed during their lifetime,” said Brian Moto, general campaign chairman and one of the center's board members.

Moto's father, the late Kaoru Moto, served as a private first class in the 100th Infantry Battalion and earned the United States' highest military award, the Medal of Honor, along with a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his heroism.

The center's board members believe the new building will be the “crowning piece'' of the “living memorial'' that sits on a 6-acre parcel along Kahului Beach Road.

It will house a library, oral histories, and education classrooms. It will have temperature and humidity controls to protect the memorabilia from mold and mildew.

The veterans' center currently has two other buildings housing a preschool and an adult day care program.

Alexander & Baldwin Inc. donated the land for the center, which has received numerous grants from individuals, corporations and foundations along with money from the government

The total cost for the veterans' center is nearly $1.9 million. Of that, some $1.43 million has already been secured.

Center officials and volunteers are currently making a last push to raise about $470,000 for the project.

Moto, who is currently special assistant to the chancellor at the University of Hawaii Maui College, said the Education Center will be a resource for the entire community.

“The story ... of the Nisei soldier is an American story. It is about our country's history and heritage and so therefore it's a story that we hope will inspire and transform all people everywhere,'' he said.

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