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Pictured are (from left) John Tobe, Turner Kobayashi, Terry Shima, Sophia Kim, Mike Yaguchi and Mike Cardarelli. Photo: Priscilla Ouchida

By Priscilla Ouchida, JACL Executive Director

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 68th annual Memorial Day service honoring Japanese American servicemen buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., was held on May 29.

The late Key Kobayashi and Mike Masaoka organized the event in 1948, and the Memorial Day event is currently the longest-running Memorial Day event at Arlington Cemetery held by any civic organization.

The DC JACL Chapter, which has been involved in the ceremony since its inception, and the Japanese American Veterans Assn. co-sponsored the event.

The Kobayashi family has chaired the event for 68 years, and three generations of the family have helped organize the event. This year, Turner Kobayashi chaired the ceremony, which featured speakers Sophia Kim, a fifth-grader at Spark Matsunaga Elementary School, and Terry Shima, a veteran of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

Shima shared a story about Saburo Tanamachi of Houston, Texas, the first Japanese American buried at Arlington. Tanamachi died in the arms of the late George “Joe” Sakato, recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Following his squad leader’s death, Sakato led the charge on the Battle of the Lost Texan Battalion that was recognized as an act of extreme heroism.

Michelle Amano, granddaughter of Mike Masaoka, recited the JACL creed. Flowers were also laid at the graves of 80 veterans by those who attended the service.