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Conscience and the Constitution

from "They Call Me Moses Masaoka"

By Mike Masaoka with Bill Hosokawa
published by William Morrow and Company, 1987

excerpt from Chapter 9, "Combat," p. 179

by Mike Masaoka

According to a Selective Service monograph, some 33,300 Nisei served in World War II. More than half were from the main-land; 20,000 had at one time or another been inmates of U.S. detention camps. Compare that number to the 267 who refused induction, demanding restoration of their rights before they would serve their country.

Some historians, writing from the isolation of their ivory towers, have contended the draft resisters were the real heroes of the Japanese-American story because they had the courage to stand up for a principle. These historians are wrong. The significance is in the relatively small number of dissidents in the face of gross injustice. The heroes are the men and their families who demonstrated their faith in America. In the postwar years, Congress passed one measure after another to correct historical wrongs. In every instance it was the record of Nisei military valor and sacrifice that drew attention to past injustices and convinced those in power that change had to come. Without that record the fight for justice would have been infinitely more difficult. There is persuasive reason to believe that Japanese Americans, and other minorities, today would not be enjoying unrestricted citizenship rights without the Nisei record of unswerving loyalty.

Copyright 1987 by Mike Masaoka and Bill Hosokawa


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